This ‘CSI: Miami’ actress was threatened by a stalker for 12 years. The FBI caught him after he left his DNA on a fast-food straw

They got here within the mail to Eva LaRue’s Southern California home — typically handwritten, typically typed — from an unknown sender who referred to as himself “Freddie Krueger” and vowed to rape and kill her and her younger daughter.

The letters — greater than three dozen of them — saved on coming for greater than 12 years, a relentless psychological assault that made the “CSI: Miami” actress and her household afraid to step outdoors their residence.

Early on, some letters talked about LaRue’s daughter, then 5. However in 2015, letters started arriving addressed to the kid. The stalker additionally started calling LaRue’s daughter’s college, saying that he was her father and was outdoors to choose her up.

However with the assistance of genetic family tree, a science that was used for the primary time in California to seize the Golden State Killer, the FBI in 2019 was in a position to take DNA from the envelopes and run it via a database, yielding a listing of the suspect’s kin. This ultimately led them to a small city in Ohio, the place they arrested a 58-year-old man after pulling his DNA from a discarded Arby’s straw.

James David Rogers was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in federal jail. The Heath, Ohio, man pleaded responsible in April to 2 counts of mailing threatening communications, one depend of threats by interstate communications, and two counts of stalking.

“I forgive you, however I can not neglect,” LaRue informed him on the sentencing in a Los Angeles County courtroom. “The worry is with me perpetually.”

12 years of terror

LaRue is a former magnificence queen and longtime actress who appeared for a few years as a physician on the cleaning soap opera “All My Youngsters.” She’s in all probability finest recognized for her seven seasons on the crime drama “CSI: Miami,” ending in 2012.

Her character was a DNA analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Division, which turned a bitter irony when authorities discovered DNA on envelopes containing the threatening letters however could not pinpoint a suspect.

LaRue was halfway via her second full season on “CSI: Miami” when the primary letter confirmed up at her home. Others quickly adopted.

“I’m going to f**king stalk you till the day you die,” mentioned one, based on a 2019 federal indictment of Rogers.

“There will probably be no place on this earth that I … (cannot) discover you. I’m going to rape you,” mentioned one other letter, through which the stalker additionally threatened to rape and impregnate LaRue’s daughter.

The letters have been signed “Freddie Krueger,” the fictional killer from the horror movie sequence “A Nightmare on Elm Avenue.” Many have been postmarked from Youngstown, Ohio.

David Caruso and Eva LaRue in an undated episode of the CBS series "CSI: Miami."

LaRue informed CNN she was so terrified that she ultimately bought her home and moved along with her household to Italy, the place they lived for a number of months with a pal. She then returned to California and purchased a brand new home underneath an LLC — a enterprise entity that gives restricted legal responsibility safety — to protect her id, however the letters started exhibiting up at that deal with as effectively, she mentioned.

LaRue and her daughter “drove circuitous routes residence, slept with weapons close by and had discussions about the best way to search assist rapidly if [Rogers] discovered them and tried to hurt them,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“They tried to anonymize their addresses as a lot as potential by avoiding receiving mail and packages at their precise deal with,” prosecutors mentioned. “To no avail. Every time they moved, [the] letters — and the victims’ terror — would all the time comply with.”

In 2015, the household began receiving letters addressed to LaRue’s daughter. On the time, she was about 13.

“I’m the person who has been stalking for (the) final 7 years. Now I’ve set my eye on you too,” the primary one learn, based on the indictment. One other one learn, “You look so stunning in your footage on google. Are you able to be the mom of my baby.”

How the FBI caught the stalker

The FBI collected DNA from most of the envelopes however did not know whose it was till 2019, once they turned to the rising discipline of genetic family tree — the identical technique that had fingered the Golden State Killer the earlier yr.

Thanks partially to corporations resembling 23andMe, Ancestry and GEDmatch, genetic family tree has turn out to be a beneficial instrument for legislation enforcement officers making an attempt to unravel outdated crimes. Authorities add a DNA information file to a public database to establish any kin of the one that might need submitted their DNA for testing. They then construct out household timber and slender down potential suspects through old style detective work till a lead suspect emerges.

Even so, investigators nonetheless should acquire a pattern of the suspect’s DNA and make a match earlier than they’ll make an arrest.

As soon as the proof pointed to Rogers, FBI brokers started surveilling him. FBI brokers traveled to Ohio within the fall of 2019, former FBI particular agent Stephen Busch and former FBI lawyer Steve Kramer informed CNN.

When Rogers left his job as a nurse’s assistant at an assisted residing facility and went to an Arby’s on his manner residence, the FBI adopted and watched him eat his meal and discard the bag in a Dumpster, Busch and Kramer mentioned.

Brokers raided the Dumpster and extracted Rogers’ DNA from a soda straw within the bag, Busch and Kramer mentioned. It matched the DNA from the envelopes despatched to LaRue and her daughter, they mentioned.

The FBI arrested Rogers at his residence early one morning in November 2019.

Rogers’ conviction marks the primary time genetic family tree has solved a case on the federal degree, Busch and Kramer informed CNN.

Their worry nonetheless lingers

At his sentencing Thursday, Rogers informed the decide through a video hyperlink from Ohio that he grew up in an abusive residence and was bullied in class. He mentioned he’s receiving psychological well being remedy.

“I sincerely apologize for what I did for the final 12 years, placing you and your loved ones via hellish conduct,” he mentioned to LaRue. “I settle for full accountability. I hope you possibly can put this behind you and in some unspecified time in the future by no means take into consideration me once more.”

LaRue and her daughter, Kaya McKenna Callahan, at the 27th Annual LA Art Show Gala  on January 19, 2022, in Los Angeles.

LaRue then addressed Rogers in her sufferer influence assertion, thanking him for his apology however telling the decide, “I’m so nervous what is going to occur when he will get out out.”

She grew emotional as she informed the courtroom how the repeated threats took a toll on her and her household and disadvantaged them of fundamental freedoms.

“We’ve got had years of this,” she mentioned. “That is past deviant conduct.”

LaRue’s daughter Kaya Callahan, now 20, additionally turned emotional as she informed the courtroom how she was traumatized by Rogers’ threats.

After Rogers contacted her college, she mentioned there was such “paranoia” about her security that she was escorted on daily basis to and from the college constructing to the car parking zone.

“I used to be afraid for my life,” she mentioned. Callahan mentioned her worry nonetheless lingers.

“I need to really feel OK once more,” she mentioned. “Protected.”

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