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Grand Chute police discuss technology, investigation that led to 21-year-old cold case's only arrest

Posted at 10:27 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 23:27:50-04

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Day after day, year after year, the wait for answers continued.

"You can only imagine 21 years of carrying this around as a victim how much of a relief it must be to learn that there was an arrest made," Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson said.

Monday, Grand Chute police announced 51-year-old John Carter was arrested Friday for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl who worked at the Fox River Mall back in 2000. It's an investigation that's been in the works for over 21 years.

"A young lady who was leaving employment at the mall walked out into the parking lot where she was abducted by this individual, taken to a remote location and assaulted," Peterson said about the crime.

In 2019, a newly-hired detective was assigned to re-investigate the cold case.

"A lot of times I think with cold cases, it just takes a fresh set of eyes to look over the investigation and see if there's a direction that hasn't been taken," Peterson said.

Police say new DNA evidence linked Carter to another sexual assault in 1999.

"Things change, technologies change...what not," Peterson said. "We have avenues to pursue today that we didn't have back then."

Carter is charged with first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and use of a dangerous weapon.

"According to the DNA and the allegations and the admissions that he has provided would suggest that he has committed at least two sexual assaults," Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis said during Monday afternoon's initial appearance. "They are stranger sexual assaults. He is definitely a flight risk. He his definitely a danger to the community."

Peterson says he hopes an arrest after so many years can provide closure for the victim.

"Anytime you can solve a cold case, we'd like to think that it brings some sense of relief to that victim," he said.

A judge set Carter's bond at $1 million cash.

His next appearance in the Outagamie County Circuit Court is scheduled for May 6.