Police arrest Diboll man in 6-year-old rape case

Perry Haggerton mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Perry Haggerton mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin Police have made an arrest in a sexual assault of a mentally disabled woman six years ago, after being able to connect him to the crime with DNA evidence.

Perry Jerome Haggerton, 53, is charged with aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony. He was booked into the Angelina County Jail on Wednesday and released on a personal recognizance bond from Justice of the Peace Bill Ball.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the investigation began in July of 2005 when the woman said she was walking down West Frank Street when a man in a truck pulled up and told her to get in the truck with him and that he had something to her. The woman, who is mentally challenged, was afraid and got into the truck.

The man, who police have identified as Haggerton, asked the woman where she wanted to go and she told him to take her home and told her where she lived. Haggerton then asked her to have sex with him for money, which she refused, according to the report.

Haggerton took her to her apartment complex and got out and walked to the passenger side of the truck, took the woman's clothes off and had sex with her, according to the report.

The woman went inside her apartment but was too scared to tell anyone about the incident that day. She told her husband about it the next day and they called police.

The woman had a sexual assault exam that day, which confirmed she was sexually assaulted.

On May 03, 2011, Lufkin Police received a laboratory report indicating that the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) system identified a possible DNA match for biological evidence collected in connection with the July 2005 sexual assault.  The CODIS database linked a known DNA sample of Haggerton to a previously unidentified sample collected during the investigation.

According to the investigation report, a sample of Mr. Haggerton's DNA was submitted to the CODIS system following his December 2, 2010, conviction for the offense of Driving While Intoxicated (with/two prior convictions), a Third Degree Felony.  He was convicted in the 159th District Court in Lufkin and sentenced to six years of probation; a sample of his DNA was collected as part of the conviction.

On May 04, 2011, a Lufkin Police detective obtained a search warrant for collecting a DNA sample from Haggerton. Haggerton voluntarily appeared at Lufkin Police Department and submitted to an interview with the detective and to the taking of a DNA sample (buccal swabs of the inside of his mouth).

The detective interviewed the woman that day and she was able to give the same details about the assault that took place six years ago. She was also able to say she was not a willing participant and was raped by the suspect, according to the report.

The swabs were submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime laboratory in Houston and on August 29, 2011, the lab reported that a definitive DNA match between Haggerton and the biological evidence collected as part of the investigation into the July 2005 sexual assault.

The detective obtained a warrant for Haggerton's arrest on Aug. 29. He tried to serve the warrant but found that Haggerton was being treated at a Houston-area hospital.

On Wednesday, Haggerton surrendered in Ball's office.

"This case illustrates the importance of proper evidence collection and preservation, and of remaining patient," Police spokesman Det. J.B. Smith said. "The professional manner of the officers and crime scene techs handling the 2005 investigation permitted yesterday's arrest."

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