On April 27th, 2021

Familial DNA Leads to Arrest of Serial Sex Assault Suspect in Butte County

BUTTE COUNTY - On April 26, 2021, California Department of Justice (DOJ) special agents and officers from the Chico and Red Bluff Police Departments arrested Steven Craig Michael Haskins, 36, of Chico as a suspect in multiple sexual assaults that were committed between 2014 and 2019.  The arrest followed familial DNA research conducted by DOJ criminalists.

“The California Department of Justice is key to assisting law enforcement officers throughout the state with their investigations, new and old,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona.  “DOJ criminalists, special agents, latent print and crime analysts – they all work away from the spotlight but provide vital public safety work that we should all be thankful for.”

According to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey and Tehama County District Attorney Matt Rogers, “In what would otherwise have remained cold case sexual assaults in Northern California, the use of familial DNA search not only led to the suspect’s arrest, but ensured a dangerous sexual assailant is off the streets and unable to victimize another woman today. The identification of Haskins would not have been possible without the familial DNA search by DOJ. This was a joint effort with dedicated detectives from Chico, Red Bluff, and the expert forensics team at the Department of Justice.”

New California Attorney General Rob Bonta said, "There is absolutely no place for rape or sexual assault anywhere in our society. Today's arrest is a clear reminder of the good work that can be done when we collaborate across jurisdictions to stand up for the people of our state. I am proud of the efforts of the California Department of Justice's forensic experts, special agent investigators, and crime analysts who work tirelessly to help keep our streets safe. I also commend our law enforcement partners in Butte and Tehama on their commitment to securing justice. My office stands ready to continue to provide assistance on this critical case and to use our technological know-how to support our partners across the state."

The familial search process involves searching the assailant DNA against the state’s convicted offender database to identify potential relatives in the database. Haskins’ DNA had been previously recovered from two sexual assaults in Chico and one sexual assault in Red Bluff, between 2014-2019. Although his DNA was recovered in each case, he remained unidentified because he had no known DNA sample in the state’s system.

However, the DNA of one of Haskins’ family members, who had been convicted of a felony, was in the state’s DNA databank. A familial search was conducted, and DOJ established a possible familial connection between the family member and the DNA collected from the three sexual assaults. That connection was used to identify and arrest Haskins after his DNA was obtained by DOJ special agents who had been surveilling him.

Familial DNA searches are only used in limited situations where a violent crime has been committed, there is a serious risk to public safety, and all other investigative leads have been exhausted.

District Attorneys Ramsey and Rogers noted they have agreed to combine the cases to be tried in Butte County. Ramsey says his office plans to charge Haskins with a count of rape, a count of kidnapping, and a count of assault with intent to commit rape.

 

 

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