DNA Connects Suspect to Unsolved Rape in Van Buren

James Edward Willis

Van Buren Police identified a suspect in a March 2000 rape case.

James Edward Willis, 37, was arrested Tuesday (July 30) in Springfield, Mo., after detectives traveled there with a rape warrant, police say.

The alleged rape occurred in March 2000 in Van Buren, according to police. The suspect broke into a 24-year-old woman’s house in the middle of the night while she and her children were sleeping.

Police say the man assaulted the woman and left. Evidence, including DNA, was obtained from the scene and entered into a database.

In April 2005, a warrant was issued for an unknown suspect, but it wasn’t until July 22 of this year that the state crime lab found a match to the DNA profile.

Police say Willis lived in Van Buren at the time of the incident.

Willis is being held in the Crawford County Detention Center without bond.