Pennsylvania State Police Team with Othram to Identify the Suspect in a 1997 Sexual Assault of Two Children

Almost three decades later, 54-year-old Eric Dowart of Manheim Township has been arrested for the 1997 sexual assault of two small children from Lancaster County.

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Published January 02, 2024 by Michael Vogen
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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.

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Michael Vogen

Michael Vogen

Director of Case Management

2829 Technology Forest Blvd Suite 100, The Woodlands, Texas 77381

Michael works with law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada on “unsolvable“ cases that can benefit from advanced DNA testing methods. He helps these agencies use cutting edge DNA sequencing and new forensic techniques to develop investigative leads for their cases.

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About Othram Inc.

Othram is the world’s first private DNA laboratory built specifically to apply the power of modern parallel sequencing to forensic evidence. Othram’s scientists are experts at ... Read morerecovery, enrichment, and analysis of human DNA from trace quantities of degraded or contaminated materials. Founded in 2018, and located in The Woodlands, Texas, our team works with academic researchers, forensic scientists, medical examiners, and law enforcement agencies to achieve results when other approaches have failed. Follow Othram on Twitter @OthramTech or visit to learn how we can help you with your case. With anyone can make a difference and help solve the next cold case.