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DNA helps crack 37-year-old Avon cold case

Police arrested a 73-year-old man in a Massachusetts county jail, charging him with three counts of kidnapping.

AVON, Conn. — A 37-year-old cold case from Avon was solved after DNA found at the scene all those years ago recently matched that of a man already in jail on a different case. 

Police arrested 73-year-old George Legere while he was in Hampden (MA) County Jail and House of Correction. He was charged with three counts of kidnapping in the first degree stemming from a case in the 1980s. 

Back in 1984, police responded to Avonwood Road in Avon after a report of a person slumped over onto the steering wheel setting off the horn. 

When officers talked to the person inside the car, police said they found the person had been abducted and sexually assaulted. 

Police added that evidence including DNA was collected and sent to the state's Forensic Science Laboratory but could not find a suspect at the time. 

The forensic lab recently told Avon police that a match between the DNA evidence collected on that morning in 1984 matched with DNA entered into the National Offender DNA database. Police say Legere was identified as the offender. 

Sevasti Papakanakis, DNA Manager at the CT DESPP Division of Scientific Services, said new technology allows them to go back to the old DNA to try to solve the case.

"Sometimes what we're going back to is the actual evidence, and then sometimes what we do is go back to the actual testing extract from the case and that's also preserved," she said. "We re-test them with more sensitive methods and the profile to be compared," said Papakanakis.

Legere has a lengthy criminal record that includes arrests and convictions in 31 separate cases, including convictions for sexual assault and kidnapping, say police. 

Legere's DNA was collected at the time of his latest release from a Massachusetts prison. He is being held on a $675,000 bond and will be arraigned in Hartford on May 28. 

The Avon Police Department released a statement on the arrest thanking officers and medical personnel for their efforts in solving the nearly 40-year-old case. 

Police also acknowledged the victim saying in part, "...the Avon Police Department gratefully acknowledges the victim in this case, who despite having to constantly relive this trauma, was fully supportive of our efforts to bring this case to a conclusion." 

"Cold cases are solved. They're solved because of the perseverance on the part of the investigators but also often because of the developments in technology that makes the cases that were previously unsolvable, solvable," said Ken Gray, a senior lecturer, in the Criminal Justice Dept. at the University of New Haven.

Connecticut offers hotlines and services to all victims of crime, including a statewide 24-hour toll-free hotline (888-999-5545 (English) and 888-568-8332 (Spanish)) for sexual assault victims. More resources and support are available at endsexualviolence.org.

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