DNA match leads to arrest in 1989 violent rape, attempted murder in San Mateo

Bay Area

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KRON) – A DNA match has led to the arrest of a suspect in a violent rape and attempted murder in 1989, according to the San Mateo Police Department.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, police arrested a 55-year-old Manteca resident, John Harris, Jr.

He has been booked into the San Mateo County Main Jail on attempted murder charges. Bail has been set for $500,000.

Authorities were able to identify the suspect ‘thanks to technology advancements in DNA.’

32 years ago, on Feb. 4, 1989, a suspect came into an apartment in the 3100 block of Casa De Campo around 4:15 a.m.

Authorities say the victim was asleep in her room when the suspect entered the home. He went into the kitchen to grab a knife and then went into the bedroom.

“The suspect entered her home, forcibly raped her, strangled her, held a knife to her throat, and stabbed her several times before slashing her throat,” San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini said.

The victim’s throat was slit, just missing the external jugular vein.

Police say the victim was able to fight back and negotiate with the suspect, convincing him to leave.

The victim then called authorities.

Investigators interviewed multiple people, but were unable to find a suspect at the time.

The case was regularly reviewed and police were able to get a DNA match in December 2020.

John Harris, Jr., who was identified as the suspect, lived in the same neighborhood as the victim back in 1989, however, the victim did not know him.

Over the last 32 years, the suspect is said to have lived across the Bay Area, San Joaquin County, and Arizona.

Police spoke with the victim who was overwhelmed with emotion following the arrest.

“It’s something she has lived with every day of her life for 30+ years, however, she has taken steps to move on and has successfully done that but at the same time, is relieved and excited to know this case has progressed to where it is now,” investigator Matt Broad said.

The department said the victim was grateful for the persistent law enforcement effort.

The investigation continues and more DNA is being processed, according to police. If you or anyone you know has been victimized by John Harris, Jr., you are asked to contact authorities at (650) 522-7650.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to http://tinyurl.com/SMPDTips or by calling (650) 522-7676.

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