Arrest made in 1997 rape of 14-year-old Volusia girl

Teen girl was repeatedly raped by 3 men, deputies say

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Close to 20 years after a 14-year-old girl was raped in Volusia County, one of the men deputies say is responsible has been arrested.

Investigators said the suspect, Robert Sheridan Haar, 42, was arrested last weekend in Wisconsin, where he was visiting, in connection with the 1997 sexual battery case. Haar will remain in Wisconsin until he's extradited to Volusia County in the coming weeks.

Deputies said the 14-year-old victim was with friends when their vehicle broke down near Mud Lake in Daytona Beach on Oct. 16, 1997. The friends got in an argument and the victim was left stranded.

Three men in a van approached the girl and told her she would be killed if she screamed or resisted, the arrest affidavit said. The girl was repeatedly raped then dropped off in Port Orange the next morning, deputies said.

The victim reported the crime when she returned to her grandmother's house and investigators took DNA samples from her.

Due to an oversight on the investigator's part, the DNA was not tested until last year, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Pat Thoman said.

Thoman added that Haar's DNA was not in CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System, until last year so even if the evidence had been tested earlier it wouldn't have gotten a hit for Haar.

Haar's prior arrests include grand theft of a motor vehicle in Hillsborough County in 1995 and drug charges in Volusia County in 2000, records show. He was released from prison in Florida in 2001.

Two other men have been identified as suspects, but investigators are still trying to determine if they're a DNA match, Thoman said.

The victim still lives in Volusia County and is willing to cooperate with the prosecution.

“Obviously she was very emotional, she did recall the incident very well although it had been 20 years," Thoman said. "She was definitely willing to pursue the case.”

Angela Starke, Florida Department of Law Enforcement public information officer, said 2,156 of the roughly 8,600 previously untested sexual assault kits across the state have been processed as of January 2017.

Thoman said DNA evidence and CODIS played a crucial role in this case.

"Without DNA technology we wouldn't be where we are in the case. Basically we had no identifiers of the male subjects and without the DNA we would never know who they were," Thoman said.

Watch Thoman's Tuesday morning news conference below

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