CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office says a suspect wanted in a 1999 rape is in custody.
A DNA profile from a rape kit linked Bart Mercurio, 50, to the case.
According to prosecutors, on May 6, 1999, a woman left her house to go for a walk in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.
When she returned home, Mercurio surprised her inside, grabbed her, and struck her multiple times to the point where she lost consciousness, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors say he sexually assaulted her and fled the scene.
The woman called the police and was transported to the hospital where a sexual assault kit was collected.
The rape kit wasn’t tested until 2013.
At that time there was no match, so the DNA profile was indicted at that time as “John Doe 133,” as a means to ensure the statute of limitations did not run out.
John Doe 133 was charged with the following:
- One count of rape
- One count of kidnapping
- One count of aggravated burglary
Cold case sexual assault cases were reexamined in 2020 with genealogical searches.
The DNA profile for John Doe 133 was submitted at that time.
DNA analysts and genetic genealogists connected John Doe 133 to Bart Mercurio.
Investigators then obtained Mercurio’s DNA and sent it to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to be tested.
It was a match, according to prosecutors.
John Doe 133’s indictment was amended to reflect an I.D. and an arrest warrant was issued.
Law enforcement arrested Mercurio on July 9, 2021, at this home in Elyria.
Mercurio is in the Cuyahoga County Jail.
His arraignment is scheduled for July 13.