In a horrifying event, the DNA from his cigarette helped convict a child rapist who killed 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough.
In Federal Way, Washington, a 16-year-old was raped, strangled, and then killed in a rural location in 1991.
Patrick Leon Nicholas, a 59-year-old resident of Washington, was found guilty of murder in the second degree and first degree with sexual purpose while dismissing one allegation of premeditated first-degree murder.
Using cutting-edge ancestral DNA methods, he was apprehended in October 2019 for the murder of Sarah Yarborough.
Nicholas was found guilty despite the defense’s claims that he did not match the murderer’s profile. DNA evidence served as the major source of the prosecution’s case against Nicholas.
The police had investigated other suspects over the years and had received hundreds of leads, but Nicholas wasn’t made a primary suspect until Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick found that portions of his DNA matched evidence found at the crime site, including DNA from discarded cigarettes in 2019.
Just before school started, Sarah was alone herself in a parking lot when Nicholas grabbed her and pulled her into some nearby bushes where he raped her. Later, Sarah was found on her back, lifeless, by two 12-year-old boys.