A suspect was arrested Thursday night in connection with a 2002 rape and home invasion in Johnston County. DNA evidence collected on a cigarette butt found at the crime scene 19 years ago recently matched a man living in Ohio.
Timothy Mark Rodenberger, 56, of Bellefontaine, Ohio was extradited to North Carolina and jailed on the charges last night.
“This is just another example of ‘You can’t outrun the long arm of the Law’ especially with DNA and other technology available to law enforcement today,” Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Friday.
In the predawn hours of May 2, 2002, a 37 year-old woman was asleep in her bed on Cleveland Road in the Cleveland community when she was awakened by an intruder in her bedroom. The suspect forced the victim to the living room where she was sexually assaulted.
Johnston County sheriff’s detectives collected evidence from the victim’s home including a cigarette butt located near a window. The cigarette butt was sent to the NC SBI crime lab where a DNA profile was found, however there were no DNA matches in a criminal database.
In March 2020, Rodenberger was indicted by an Ohio Grand Jury on two counts of trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound. That same month, Rodenberger’s DNA reportedly matched with the Johnston County cased, 567 miles away.
In 2016, Rodenberger was arrested by the Logan County, Ohio Sheriff’s Office for a domestic assault incident with a 48 year-old woman he had been living with. The assault occurred when she asked him to move out.
Rodenberger was held on a $1 million secured bond on first degree burglary, kidnapping and attempted second degree forcible rape warrants. He was given an additional $3,000 bond for failing to appear in court in 2002 for a misdemeanor littering charge in North Carolina.
Authorities said Rodenberger was living in the same Johnston County neighborhood as the victim in 2002 when the sexual assault occurred.