Authorities use DNA to connect LaPlace suspect to rapes in ’99 & ’11

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

NEW ORLEANS — A LaPlace man anticipating release from prison in 2024 faces four new life-in-prison prosecutions following a batch of indictments handed out last week by an Orleans Parish grand jury.

Juan Ceasar was charged Thursday with two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated kidnapping — each charge carrying mandatory life sentences upon conviction, according to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office.

Juan Ceasar

Ceasar, 55, is incarcerated at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, serving a 12- year sentence following a 2012 sexual assault conviction in St. John the Baptist Parish. Cannizzaro’s office said Ceasar was anticipating release from prison in 2024.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Glass said a DNA sample taken from Ceasar following his conviction was placed into a national database and returned as a likely match to samples contained within two sexual assault kits from unsolved rapes in New Orleans dating back 20 years.

Glass said the DNA samples linked Ceasar to the following sexual assaults:

• Aug. 11, 1999: A woman walking to a friend’s house on Willow Street in Uptown New Orleans was abducted into a gray van occupied by three men. Ceasar, identified through DNA results as the van’s rear passenger, raped the woman at knifepoint.

• July 16, 2011: A woman walking near North Broad Street and A.P. Tureaud Avenue was approached by a man in a truck, who pulled her inside the vehicle. The woman said she was raped inside the rear cab of the truck and sprayed in the face with mace before managing to escape through a window. DNA results again linked Ceasar to the sexual assault.

“Our Sexual Assault Kit Initiative continues to unearth and run down DNA leads to so-called cold cases such as these,” Cannizzaro said in a press release. “Neither time nor distance will enable sexual predators such as this defendant from escaping our grasp once this reliable scientific evidence reveals them to have perpetrated such a crime.”

Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson set Ceasar’s bond at $4 million ($1 million per count) after the indictment was read. Louisiana State Police DNA specialist Myles Robichaux and NOPD detectives Jounay Ross and Rob Long assisted the investigation.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue is prosecuting the case with Glass.