Sydney, 2022-09-09 13:05:34. ‘CSI: Miami’ actress opens up about stalker’s threats
Warning: This story contains disturbing content related to threats of sexual violence.
Threatening messages began in March 2007.
They arrived by mail at Eva LaRue’s southern California home—sometimes handwritten, sometimes printed—from an anonymous sender who called himself “Freddie Krueger” and vowed to rape her and kill her young daughter.
The messages – more than thirty of them – have continued to arrive for more than 12 years, a relentless psychological assault that made the “CSI: Miami” actress and her family afraid to move out of their home.
Early on, some messages mentioned LaRue’s daughter, who was then five years old. But in 2015, messages began to reach the child. The stalker also began calling LaRue’s daughter’s school, saying he was her father and was out to pick her up.
But with the help of genetic genealogy, the science first used in California to capture the Golden State Killer, in 2019 the FBI was able to take DNA from the envelopes and run it through a database, yielding a list of the suspect’s relatives. This eventually led them to a small town in Ohio, where they arrested a 58-year-old man after pulling his DNA from a discarded Arby straw.
James David Rogers was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in federal prison. The man in Heath, Ohio, pleaded guilty in April to two counts of mail-threatening communications, one count of threats by interstate communications, and two counts of stalking.
“I forgive you, but I can’t forget,” LaRue said to him at the sentencing in the Los Angeles County Courtroom. “Fear is with me forever.”
Twelve years of terrorism
LaRue is a former beauty queen and longtime actress who for many years appeared as a doctor on the TV series “All My Children”. She is probably best known for her seven seasons of crime drama “CSI: Miami” which ends in 2012.
Her character was a DNA analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Department, which became a bitter irony when authorities found DNA on envelopes containing threatening letters but were unable to identify the suspect.
LaRue was in the middle of her second full season on “CSI: Miami” when the first message appeared at her home. Others soon followed
“I will stalk you until the day you die,” one said, according to the 2019 federal indictment against Rogers.
Another message, in which the stalker also threatened to rape and carry LaRue’s daughter, said: “There will be no place on this earth… (I can’t) find him. I will rape you.”
The letters were signed by Freddy Krueger, the fictional killer from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” horror series. Many of them were postmarked from Youngstown, Ohio.
LaRue told CNN she was so terrified that she eventually sold her house and moved with her family to Italy, where they lived for several months with a friend. She then returned to California and bought a new home under an LLC — a business entity that provides limited liability protection — to protect her identity, but letters started appearing at that address as well, she said.
LaRue and her daughter made roundabouts home, slept with guns nearby and had discussions about how to quickly seek help if [Rogers] They found them and tried to harm them,” federal prosecutors wrote in the sentencing note.
“They tried to conceal their identity as much as possible by avoiding receiving mail and packages at their physical address,” prosecutors said. In vain. Every time they moved, [the] Messages – and the horror of the victims – will always follow.”
In 2015, the family began receiving letters addressed to LaRue’s daughter. At the time, she was around 13 years old.
According to the indictment, “I’m the guy who’s been stalking for the past seven years. Now I’ve laid eyes on you too,” according to the indictment. Another wrote, “You look so beautiful in your Google Photos. Are you ready to be a mother to my child?”
How the FBI caught the stalker
The FBI collected DNA from several envelopes, but didn’t know who it was until 2019, when they turned to the nascent field of genetic genealogy — the same way that fingered the Golden State Killer the previous year.
Thanks to companies like 23andMe, Ancestry, and GEDmatch, genetic genealogy has become a valuable tool for law enforcement officials trying to solve ancient crimes. Authorities upload the DNA data file to a public database to identify any relatives of a person who may have submitted their DNA for testing. Then they build family trees and narrow the range of potential suspects through old detective work until the prime suspect emerges.
However, investigators still have to obtain a DNA sample of the suspect and perform a match before they can make an arrest.
As soon as evidence pointed to Rogers, FBI agents began keeping tabs on him. FBI agents traveled to Ohio in the fall of 2019, former FBI Special Agent Stephen Bush and former FBI attorney Steve Kramer told CNN.
When Rogers quit his job as a nurse’s assistant at a supported living facility and went to Arby’s on his way home, the FBI followed him and watched him eat his meal and dispose of the bag in the trash, Busch and Kramer said.
Bush and Kramer said agents raided the trash and extracted Rogers’ DNA from the soda straws in the bag. They said it matches DNA from the envelopes sent to LaRue and her daughter.
The FBI arrested Rogers at his home early one morning in November 2019.
Bush and Kramer told CNN that Rogers’ conviction marked the first time that genetic genealogy had resolved a case at the federal level.
Their fears remain
In his sentencing Thursday, Rogers told the judge via a video link from Ohio that he grew up in an abusive home and was bullied at school. He said he is receiving psychiatric treatment.
“I sincerely apologize for what I have done over the past 12 years, which has put you and your family into hellish behavior,” he told LaRue. “I take full responsibility. I hope you can put this behind you and at some point you won’t think of me again.”
LaRue then addressed Rogers in a victim impact statement, thanking him for his apology but telling the judge, “I am very concerned about what will happen when he comes out.”
She became emotional when she told the court how repeated threats had affected her and her family and denied them basic liberties.
“We’ve been through years of this,” she said. “This goes beyond deviant behavior.”
LaRue’s daughter Kaia Callahan, now 20, also became emotional as she told the court how she was traumatized by Rogers’ threats.
After Rogers called her school, she said there was “paranoia” about her safety that she was escorted every day to and from the school building to the parking lot.
“I was afraid for my life,” she said. Callahan said her fear lingers.
“I want to feel fine again,” she said. “security.”
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