Columbia man arrested, charged in 2002 rape

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Prosecutor's Office has charged a man in connection with a 2002 rape case, in which he allegedly followed the victim home from a bar.

Police arrested Jackie Lee Jennings, 53, on Thursday. He has been charged with forcible rape and burglary, and had his bond set at $200,000 cash. Jennings pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

According to court documents, Jennings approached the victim outside a bar in downtown Columbia in April 2002. He offered to drive her home, saying he noticed she'd been drinking, but she declined his offer. She also refused his offer to follow her home in his car to make sure she arrived safely.

The victim told police she felt sick when she got home, which she thought was strange since she'd only had two drinks and was an "experienced drinker." After laying down for a while, the victim said she looked up and saw a man standing in her room.

At that point, court documents said, the man attacked her and the victim passed out, waking later to find her clothes were off.

Investigators found the light bulb above the victim's front door had been unscrewed; they were able to get a fingerprint from the bulb. The victim wasn't able to identify her attacker, but DNA evidence from the scene was put into a database for future searches and reference.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Caldera said because Jennings was placed on felony probation in 2014 for a different case, and found guilty in November of last year, Jennings had to provide a DNA sample. 

"This case was investigated at the time in 2002," Caldera said. "They just didn't have enough information to identify the suspect, which now because of a CODIS hit they were able to match evidence at the scene with Mr. Jennings." 

In March 2017, the Missouri State Highway Patrol compared the DNA profile to that of Jennings, whose photo from a recent booking photo matched the description given by the victim of her attacker.

When police asked the victim if she knew Jennings, she said she did not, and that there was no chance any sexual contact had been consensual.

Prosecutors asked for a high bond for Jennings, citing previous convictions for assault and resisting arrest, and saying he is a flight risk.

A court date has been set for Aug. 18 at 9 a.m. 

(This story has been updated with the latest information.)