DNA leads to arrest of suspected serial rapist and killer of Brianna Denison

November 26, 2008

RENO, Nev. (ChattahBox) — Reno police say the man they arrested for allegedly raping and murdering a 19-year-old college student may be responsible for other sexual assaults in the area and in Washington state. Reno police have charged James Michael Biela, 27, left, in the murder of 19-year-old college student Brianna Denison.  The arrest ends a lengthy manhunt for the Reno teenager’s murderer who is also believed to be a serial rapist. Her body was found in a vacant field in southeast Reno the next month, with two pairs of panties that did not belong to the teen found nearby.

DNA evidence collected from James Biela linked him to the murder of Brianna Denison on Jan. 28 as well as a sexual assault victim the previous month, Reno police announced in a press conference Wednesday morning.  Biela, of Sparks, was arrested Tuesday night and booked on suspicion of kidnapping, murder and sexual assault. Denison was abducted before dawn on Jan. 20 as she slept on the couch at a home near the University of Nevada, Reno. She had likely been visible through a glass door, police officials said.

According to Reno Police Chief Michael Pohlman, a tip to Secret Witness on Nov. 1 led to Biela’s arrest.
Poehlman said in the press conference that Biela’s girlfriend, the mother of his 4-year-old son, found a pair of underwear in his truck and told her friend about it. The friend contacted police who questioned the girlfriend. She agreed to allow detectives to test the DNA of her and Biela’s 4-year-old child, Poehlman said.
When a match was determined, Biela was arrested in the 1300 block of Corporate Boulevard in Reno and took a sample of his DNA. Police investigators said the DNA evidence found at the scene where the student’s body was found linked the murderer to at least two other sexual attacks on women on or near the campus between October and December of 2007.

Officials said there is no known prior relationship between Biela and Denison or any other victims.


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