Cornelius Smothers – Repeat Sex Offender – DNA Linked to other crimes

More than two years after Fairfield police launched a search for a man suspected of raping and robbing a woman outside a Grasselli Road nursing home, DNA evidence has linked a convicted sex offender to the crime, police announced today.

It was a conviction in an unrelated sodomy case that led investigators to 20-year-old Cornelius Smothers, according to a statement issued by Fairfield police.

When the rape occurred, the victim was able to give police a description of her attacker — an 18- to 25-year-old black man with dark complexion wearing a black T-shirt and khaki shorts armed with a semi-automatic handgun — and investigators collected physical evidence.

Chief Pat Mardis said at the time of the crime that the victim was visiting Fairfield Health Care Facility, where her mother worked and her grandmother was a resident, when she was attacked. Mardis said today the grandmother has since died.

The victim, Mardis said, was relieved to hear of the charges. “She was just elated that we’ve had some closure in the case.”

Smothers is a suspect in other Fairfield armed robberies, including the robbery of two people as they left the nearby Nail Palace the same day as the rape.

Mardis said Smothers is considered a suspect in an April 26, 2007, purse-snatching and attempted rape in the parking lot of the TeleTech, but police have recently been unable to find the victim in that case.

The evidence collected at the nursing home was turned over to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and entered into the Combined DNA Index System, a database of evidence from federal, state, and local crime laboratories.

In April, Fairfield investigators were informed by ADFS of a possible match from the DNA samples submitted nearly two years earlier. According to CODIS records, evidence matched a sample recovered from Smothers when he pled guilty to an unrelated sodomy charge in 2008.

Fairfield police obtained a search warrant to collect more DNA from Smothers and earlier this month a grand jury handed down indictments against Smothers on rape, robbery, and sodomy charges.

Mardis said CODIS has been a beneficial tool for law enforcement. “It’s really helping and it’s been known to clear some people too.”

Smothers is being held at the Draper Correctional Facility on the sodomy conviction and is scheduled to be released in November 2038, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections Web site.

Court records show Smothers with charged with illegal possession of a credit card, robbery, and sodomy in four separate cases in 2007 and 2008.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”

………Sarah Tofte

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