In April 1997, Pennsylvania State Police responded to a report that an unknown subject sexually assaulted two young children on West Newport Road in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The unknown male assailant approached the children in an area near their home and sexually assaulted them before departing the scene of the crime in a light blue work van with a ladder on the back. The children reported the incident to an adult who subsequently alerted law enforcement.
An investigation into the identity of the assault suspect was launched and DNA evidence was collected at the crime scene. Traditional forensic DNA testing was performed on the evidence and a STR profile was submitted to CODIS, in an attempt to identify the suspect. However, a match was not made to a known identity. Despite the exhaustive efforts from law enforcement investigators, attempts to identify the suspect were not successful. Finally, in 2002, charges were filed against the suspect as a John Doe.
In 2022, Pennsylvania State Police submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas in hopes of developing new leads that could assist in the identification of the man who sexually assaulted the two young children. Othram scientists developed a suitable DNA extract from the forensic evidence and used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the unknown suspect. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the profile in a genealogical search to produce investigative leads. These investigative leads were returned to Pennsylvania State Police investigators.
A follow-up investigation was conducted and led to genetic relatives of the suspect. Police eventually identified the suspect as 54-year-old Eric Dorwart. Dorwart is a resident of Manheim Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Dorwart was arrested in August 2023 and is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and two counts of corruption of minors. A preliminary hearing in the case has been conducted and the case is awaiting a future court date.
Anyone that might have information about the suspect or the case is urged to contact Pennsylvania State Police - Lancaster Headquarters at 717-299-7650.