After a week without leads, Reno police have now found new evidence in the case of missing Santa Barbara City College student Brianna Denison.
Following a lab test, detectives have ruled that DNA found at the crime scene matches a sample taken from a Dec. 16 sexual assault of a University of Nevada-Reno student who lived only a few blocks away. Police believe the 19-year-old Denison was abducted on Jan. 20 after she stayed overnight at a friend’s house in Reno where a sliding door was left unlocked.
Reno police have re-interviewed the victim of the Dec. 16 attack, who was abducted just outside her house and then returned to her home by the suspect. On Jan. 19, just a day before Denison disappeared, the woman of the Dec. 16 attack was the victim of an attempted burglary, which police believe may be associated with the attacker.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Reno Police Commander Ron Holladay said police believe the suspect is a white male in his 30s.
“Our chances of capturing the suspect are exponentially increased now because of the DNA,” Holladay said. “He probably lives in the area. It’s still my hope that Brianna is alive, and we’re expending every resource possible to get her back safely.”
Police are now questioning whether a Nov. 13 assault of a UNR student in the same area is related to the other attacks. Additionally, lab technicians have determined that a drop of blood found on Denison’s pillow belonged to her. Detectives are now planning to search the Truckee River and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks as well as the nearby mountainous areas.