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Tue, Nov. 12

DNA test leads to arrest in old rape case

PRESCOTT – After receiving a DNA sample from Washington state, officials extradited 44-year-old Joseph Lee Zylstra from Tennessee to Arizona to face charges of sexual assault and kidnapping that stem from a 1993 incident.

Zylstra is in custody in the Yavapai County Jail in Prescott. The charges resulted from a Yavapai County Sheriff's Office investigation into the report of a kidnapping and rapes that allegedly occurred in April 1993 at Granite Dells. The two teen-age victims were students at Bradshaw Mountain High School at the time of the crime. They reportedly were hiking in Granite Dells when a white man threatened them with a knife and raped one of them. He then drove the girls to a remote location near Mingus Mountain and raped the second girl before releasing them, the girls said.

A passerby reportedly found the girls on Highway 89A and took them to safety. Doctors examined both girls at Yavapai Regional Medical Center and collected and stored the DNA evidence they gathered during the examination.

Prior to Zylstra's release from a Washington state prison for an unrelated violent offense in 1995, he gave the state a blood sample. Officials entered the sample into the National DNA Index System.

In June 2001, officials in Washington told the YCSO Criminal Investigation Unit that they had a positive DNA match for the April 1993 case. Zylstra's DNA allegedly matches the DNA evidence doctors obtained from the two victims.

YCSO issued a warrant for Zylstra's arrest and the Henry County, Tenn. Sheriff's Office found him last month. A judge set his bond at $100,000.

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