DNA links man to 2003 home invasion sex assault in Beloit

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Neil Johnson
Thursday, September 21, 2017

JANESVILLE—DNA from a man arrested in Las Vegas has been matched to DNA found on material used to bind a sexual assault victim during a home invasion in rural Beloit more than 14 years ago, authorities said Thursday.

Joseph Ostrowski, 42, was charged Thursday in Rock County Court in the Jan. 6, 2003, sexual assault of a woman on East West Hart Road in the town of Turtle.

The woman told police at the time that a man entered her home early in the morning and confronted her in the hallway outside her bedroom, according to the criminal complaint and a news release from the Rock County Sheriff's Office.

He pushed her into the bedroom, bound her hands and neck with an electrical cord and a phone wire, then sexually assaulted her, demanded money and threatened her with a steak knife, according to the release and complaint.

After the assault, the man wandered through the house, occasionally checking on the woman to ask her where she kept jewels and money, according to the release.

Eventually, he told the woman to not move until her alarm clock went off. She hid in the closet until she heard the alarm and then called her ex-husband, who notified the sheriff's office, according to the release.

During the break-in and assault, the woman said she prayed repeatedly and that her attacker kept questioning her about her faith and why she was praying, according to the complaint.

DNA collected from an electrical cord at the scene later was connected to a 2005 burglary in Green County. In August 2017, the sheriff's office received a report from the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory that DNA from the 2003 case had been matched to DNA in a national database, according to the release.

DNA from an electrical cord used to bind the woman's hands was matched to Ostrowski, who had been arrested in Las Vegas in May on drug charges.

Rock County authorities issued a warrant for Ostrowski's arrest Aug. 21, and he was transported to the Rock County Jail on Wednesday.

Ostrowski was being held in the Rock County Jail on $50,000 cash bail—the amount Assistant District Attorney Anne Knack asked for Thursday during a bond hearing in Rock County Court.

Ostrowski appeared in court via closed-circuit television from the jail.

Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer set Ostrowski's bail based on Knack's argument that Ostrowski no longer has strong ties to Rock County, and that the crimes he's suspected of were “extremely violent” and left both “physical and emotional marks” on the victim.

Ostrowski had moved to take a job in Las Vegas and hasn't lived in the Rock County area since 2007, according to utility records, Knack said.

Under conditions of his bail, Ostrowski cannot possess a firearm, cannot contact the victim in the case and is not allowed to leave Wisconsin.

He's slated for an initial court hearing Tuesday, Sept. 26.

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