Officer helped crack cold case

DICKINSON, TX [WATCH IT: Victim Jennifer Schuett speaks about the arrest]
[READ IT: The FBI affidavit]

Flanked by local, state and federal agents, Dennis Bradford, 40, was escorted into Galveston County jail late Wednesday night. He is being held in the jail's medical unit, in a cell by himself.

On Thursday morning a judge arraigned Bradford through a glass window, rather than in a courtroom.

"It makes it a lot easier for deputies," explained Galveston County Sheriff Freddie Poor. "They have to be dressed, transported there and transported back."

Sheriff Poor says they're keeping security tight because of Bradford's high profile status. He's charged with attempted capital murder, accused of kidnapping and raping Jennifer Schuett 19 years ago. Her throat slit, she was left to die in an open field. She was only eight years old at the time.

Captain John Pruitt, Jr., was on the case in August 1990. He preserved the evidence recently re-tested by the FBI and used to arrest Bradford.

He said, "It was sealed properly. It was maintained in a controlled environment for all these years in hopes the one day we could use them again."

Captain Pruitt started doing forensics with the Galveston County Sheriff's office in 1983. Now at the force for 26 years, he still remembers the day he collected clothing at the crime scene in Dickinson following Schuett's gruesome attack.

"After working as many years as I have in law enforcement, to have cold cases stack up, you know, you see your career coming to an end," Captain Pruitt said.

For Pruitt, this is just the beginning. Advances in DNA testing have come a long way in 20 years. With any luck, he says he'll rely on new DNA technology to crack more cold cases in Galveston County.

"It gives us hope on some of the older evidence that we have," Captain Pruitt said. "As long as it's been maintained, for instance, like we did in this case, I think we'll do real good."

Bradford's bond still stands at $1 million. His next court date is set for October 21.

Find us on Facebook® | Follow us on Twitter | More social networking
ABC13 widget | Most popular stories | Street-level weather
ABC13 wireless | Slideshow archive | Help solve crimes

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.