Sterling man arrested in 2001 sexual assault case

Authorities say DNA from the sexual assault kit matched the man’s DNA profile

A man wanted for a sexual assault that occurred near Sterling 18 years ago is being extradited to Alaska after authorities said they matched his DNA to a sexual assault kit from the case.

Carmen Daniel Perzechino Jr., 57, was indicted on March 13 of this year by a Kenai grand jury on two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of kidnapping for crimes allegedly committed on Jan. 20, 2001. Perzechino is accused of raping a woman in his van and threatening to kill her, according to an affidavit filed March 8, 2019 at the Kenai Courthouse. The victim allegedly escaped after jumping out of Perzechino’s van while on the Sterling Highway. At the time of the initial investigation, State Troopers attempted to locate a suspect or vehicle matching the description provided by the victim but were unsuccessful, and the case was closed in January of 2002.

The recent indictment came after the case’s sexual assault kit was tested as part of the State Troopers Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), according to a Thursday release from the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Authorities said DNA in the kit matched a known DNA profile for Perzechino in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) — a national database of DNA profiles from known individuals and unknown suspects.

This is the first arrest resulting from SAKI investigations.

In 2017, a statewide inventory found more than 3,000 sexual assault kits from nearly 50 police agencies in Alaska that had never been submitted to the Crime Lab for DNA analysis. These kits were collected from investigations spanning three decades.

Between 2016 and 2017, the Department of Public Safety was awarded $1.5 million in federal SAKI funds from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to analyze these untested kits.

“This case demonstrates why SAKI is so important,” DPS Commissioner Amanda Price said in Thursday’s release. “We owe it to survivors of crimes like this to investigate new leads and follow through on these cases. I am very proud of what SAKI is accomplishing and the justice it hopefully provides to survivors across Alaska.”

Authorities believe Perzechino left the United States early last February after troopers contacted him as part of their renewed investigation into the 2001 sexual assault case. Investigators contacted Perzechino by phone on Jan. 26, 2019, according to the March 8 affidavit. During the phone interview, Perzechino allegedly admitted to owning a van matching the description given but denied the charges of sexual assault.

The Philippine News Agency reported that Perzechino was arrested in the Philippines on April 4 by members of the Bureau of Immigration Fugitive Search Unit at an apartment in Angeles City, Pampanga. Perzechino was extradited to Seattle from the Philippines in August where he appeared in front of a Washington judge and waived extradition to Alaska.

Perzechino is set to be arraigned by an Alaska judge upon his return to the state.

For more information about the SAKI, visit https://dps.alaska.gov/Comm/SAK/Home.

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