An Arlington County man was sentenced to 65 years after DNA evidence linked him to a 2014 and 2016 sexual assault.
The victim was working as a lifeguard August 1, 2014 in the area of Yarling Court. The suspect entered the pool, displayed a firearm, and used zip ties to bound the victim’s hands together. He then injected the victim with Ketamine and sexually assaulted her. Evidence was collected from the crime scene and submitted to the Department of Forensic Science for analysis. The results of the analysis were positive for Ketamine being present as well as the presence of an unknown male DNA. Detectives from the Major Crimes Bureau investigated the case thoroughly and continued to do so throughout the years.
In 2016, a similar sexual assault occurred in the City of Alexandria. Evidence was also collected in this case and submitted to the Department of Forensic Science for analysis. The foreign DNA in both cases were linked, confirming the same unknown male suspect committed both sexual assaults.
Alexandria City Police submitted the linked evidence to Parabon NanoLabs for genetic genealogy analysis. Jesse Bjerke, 39, was provided as a strong person of interest and was later confirmed to be the offender in both cases after successful DNA comparisons. Bjerke was arrested in February 2019 by Alexandria City Police for charges that occurred in their jurisdiction.
In March of 2020, Jesse Bjerke was indicted in Fairfax County on charges of rape, object sexual penetration, abduction with intent to defile, and the use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Fairfax County transferred venue to Alexandria City Circuit Court for a joint plea agreement and sentencing. On October 2, 2020, Bjerke was sentenced to serve 65 years in prison, 35 years for the Alexandria City sexual assault and 30 years for the Fairfax County sexual assault.
Major Ed O’Carroll, the Bureau Commander of the Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes shared a statement moments after the plea was accepted by the court, “The detectives assigned to the 2014 sexual assault case always strived for justice and closure for the victim. Our staff, both sworn and professional, are very dedicated and never give up, no matter the challenges. The arrest of Bjerke and his plea today are examples of using advanced science technology, regional law enforcement partnerships and solid detective-work to solve a horrific and disturbing crime nearly six years later. Our detectives never give up and I’m proud of their dedicated efforts on this case and all our others.”
Detectives from Fairfax County and Alexandria City continued to work together to ensure both cases were successfully prosecuted.
Victim specialists from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Victim Services Division have been assigned to this case to ensure the victim is receiving appropriate resources and assistance.