DNA, genetic genealogy helps investigators crack unsolved rape of 12-year-old


Detectives Identify Suspect in Violent 1983 Sexual Battery Case

Brooksville, Florida — The violent Sexual Battery occurred in 1983, before any of the current employees even worked at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. The victim was a helpless 12-year-old girl.

Having obtained DNA evidence from the original crime scene, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office investigators, along with personnel from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), recently sought the services of DNA Labs International, a forensic laboratory located in Deerfield Beach, FL and Parabon NanoLabs (Parabon), a DNA technology company in Virginia that specializes in DNA phenotyping and genetic genealogy.

Law enforcement agencies use the company’s Snapshot™ DNA Phenotyping Service (Snapshot) and genetic genealogy service to narrow suspect lists and generate leads in criminal investigations. DNA evidence from the 1983 Sexual Battery of the 12-year-old was submitted to Parabon to generate actionable leads for this Cold Case.

The evidence collected in 1983 was reviewed, and it was determined that a sufficient DNA sample (of the suspect) existed.

Using this DNA evidence, Parabon produced trait predictions for the associated suspect. Individual predictions were made for the suspect’s ancestry, eye color, hair color, skin color, freckling, and face shape. Parabon’s research developed a profile that was consistent with the known suspect’s physical description. Additionally, Parabon conducted a genetic genealogy analysis and provided the results to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

Hernando County Sheriff’s investigators followed up on the lead provided by the genetic genealogy research and have identified William Louis Nichols W/M DOB/07-18-1941 as the suspect in this violent crime/cold case.

William Nichols died on October 23, 1998 in Orlando, FL. Nichols had a criminal history that included Sexual Offenses that were committed in Wisconsin, prior to him moving to Florida.

Investigation revealed Nichols to have the following criminal history:

• 10-08-1958 – Waupun Wisconsin
o Attempted Rape
o Went to prison
o Released on Parole – 10-27-1961
o Early Discharge – 01-01-1964

• 03-24-1972 – Milwaukee Wisconsin
o Rape
o Incompetent to stand trial

• 09-14-1972 – Madison Wisconsin
o Rape (3 counts)
o Dismissed.