Man arrested for Outagamie Co. cold case involving kidnapping, sexual assault; $1M cash bond issued

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 2:34 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 7:31 PM CDT
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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - Police say a man has been arrested in connection to an Outagamie County cold case.

According to Grand Chute police, officers arrested 51-year-old John E.W. Carter in Wisconsin Rapids on Friday.

Carter has been charged in Outagamie County with one count of First Degree Sexual Assault and one count of Kidnapping and Use of a Dangerous Weapon.

According to police, Carter was identified as a suspect after a detective was assigned to investigate the crime in September of 2019.

The arrest stems from an incident that happened on February 12, 2000, which officials was a kidnapping and sexual assault that happened near the Fox River Mall.

When they arrived, police learned the suspect, identified as a male, had observed a victim while she was working at Younkers. The victim was identified by police as a 16-year-old girl.

Officials say the man waited for her to leave the store at the end of her shift, and as she walked to her vehicle, the man - who she didn’t know- confronted her.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim left the building at about 8:40 p.m., and noticed a man walk past the front of her car while she leaned in to get her ice scraper. The complaint says she didn’t know the man but recognized him as someone who had approached her in the store earlier that day to ask about clothing and what time the store closed.

That’s when police say the man displayed a handgun and told the girl to get into her vehicle and move to the passenger seat. Officials say the man got in her car and drove it to a nearby location, identified in the complaint as Dodge Country on College Avenue, where he sexually assaulted her.

According to the complaint, the man took the girl’s underwear - which he had told her to remove - from the dashboard of the vehicle. The document goes on to say the man told the girl to take her nylons off, and after handing them to him, he took them, and told her to not tell anyone about the incident, and that he had her license plate number. Afterwards, police say the man ran from the scene, and wasn’t immediately caught.

Police say the girl was taken to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where a sexual assault kit was completed. Investigators tried to identify the man, but weren’t able to at that time. girl told police the man was white and in his 30′s, and was about six feet tall. In addition, the girl said the man weighed about 200 pounds, wasn’t wearing glasses, and had short hair and an unshaven appearance.

In addition, police say investigators learned the assault in Outagamie County was linked to a separate incident which happened in Janesville, Wisconsin in 1999 using DNA evidence. Investigators say they were able to make that connection in April of 2000.

According to the complaint, the connection was made after a report from the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory dated April 3, 2000, showed DNA in the identified on the swabs from her sexual assault kit was determined to be the same as DNA found on a dress collected during the Janesville sexual assault investigation.

The document goes on to say the DNA profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS, in April 2000 to be searched against databases on the local, state and national level. However, no matches were ever made in CODIS.

Court documents say a separate State Crime Lab report dated November 14, 2019 confirmed the swab taken from the 16-year-old girl’s leg had male DNA. The document goes on to say a “Y-STR profile” was added to the profile that was already in the CODIS system.

During the investigation, the complaint states a man identified as John Erich Walter Carter was identified. Detectives were then able to find jail records for Carter from Crawford County dated September 11, 2000. Court documents show Carter’s appearance at that time, as well as his height and weight, were about the same as the girl’s description. That booking had happened within seven months of the sexual assault.

Afterwards, detectives found Carter’s address using records from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and an agent with the state’s Department of Justice -Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) found two plastic bags of garbage collected from the road next to Carter’s address on February 24, 2021.

The next day, the complaint states detectives found four plastic bottles which had chewed tobacco inside. Authorities say they took swabs from the bottles to the state crime lab, and on April 9, 2021, DNA analysts concluded the donor of the male DNA profile found on the inside and outside of the bottle taken from Carter’s garbage was the source of the DNA taken from the victim’s leg.

Carter was later interviewed, and court documents state he admitted to meeting SLM in Younkers in the Appleton mall. The complaint says Carter told authorities he was attracted to the girl, and after speaking with her decided to wait for her outside. When she got to her car, Carter said he decided to approach her, and added he had a plastic gun which resembled a revolver-type weapon.

According to the complaint, Carter said the gun initially had an orange tip but he covered that with black magic marker, and used the gun to force her into her car. After arriving at Dodge Country, the complaint says Carter told officials he started “messing around”, and when asked to clarify that, he said he “took control of her” and began by kissing her. He also, according to the complaint, said he tore the girl’s underwear and pantyhose off, and began rubbing his genitals on her, before he eventually “freaked out.”

After getting out of her car, the complaint states Carter said he ran across the parking lot to his vehicle, and indicated he initially put her underwear in his pocket. The document says Carter told investigators he threw the nylons and underwear away while running at one point, and later, he said he threw them out of the vehicle after he had left the mall area.

Investigators also interviewed Carter about the Janesville sexual assault, which was reported by a girl who worked at the Janesville Mall on December 4, 1999.

According to the complaint, that girl told investigators she left work at the mall and a man followed her to her vehicle, and as she got into the driver’s seat the man opened the driver door and showed her a black handgun. In that incident, the complaint says the man told her to get into the passenger seat and he got into the driver seat. The document goes on to say the man had sexual contact with the girl and eventually told the girl he was going to write down her license plate and ran from the scene.

During the Janesville incident, the complaint says the man told the teen he sits and waits for young girls to walk out to their cars in mall parking lots and then “does this.”

When Carter was interviewed, the complaint says he told investigators he went into a store, saw the teen, and talked to her for a bit. The document goes on to say Carter indicated that he thought it would be fun to mess around with her, but denied knowing she was 16, and said she didn’t look like she was 16.

The complaint says Carter then said he started drinking and hung out until the girl left the store, and that he went up behind her and got in the car with her, saying something like “I got a gun. Let’s have some fun.”

According to the complaint, Carter acknowledged he had the teen move over to the passenger seat and he got into the driver seat, and after assaulting her he opened the door and left.

Multiple agencies worked with Grand Chute Police on the case, including the Green Bay and Wisconsin Rapids Police Departments, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigation, and the FBI.

“In this instance we got assistance from various people to move the case forward and it was just a lot of good investigative work, very tenacious investigative work,” said Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson, who hopes this arrest will give the victim closure.

He added, “I can only imagine how the victim must have felt when she received that phone call telling her that an arrest had been made.”

Carter made his initial appearance Monday afternoon in Outagamie County Court. Prosecutors asked for a $1,000,000 cash bond, and for him to not have contact with the victim from Outagamie County, as well as not use or possess any dangerous weapons.

A judge granted that request, putting Carter’s bond at $1,000,000.

His next court date is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on May 6.

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