Brianna Denison murder suspect identified
November 26, 2008
RENO (AP) ” A Sparks man has been arrested in the kidnapping and slaying of a 19-year-old college student who authorities said was abducted while sleeping at a friend’s house, the victim’s family and police said Wednesday.
James Michael Biela, 27, was arrested Tuesday night and booked into the Washoe County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping, murder and sexual assault, authorities said. He was being held without bail.
Biela provided a DNA sample that matched evidence found at the scene where Brianna Denison’s body was found in February, a Denison family member said early Wednesday. She had been reported missing in January.
“Can you believe it?” the girl’s aunt, Lauren Denison, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “The police said the DNA came back, and it’s him.”
“This is what we have been waiting for,” Lauren Denison added.
Reno police have scheduled a 10:30 a.m. news conference about what department spokesman Steve Frady said was the arrest of a suspect in Brianna Denison slaying.
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Denison, 19, a sophomore at Santa Barbara City College in California, was visiting her hometown during winter break when she vanished early Jan. 20. Authorities say she had been sleeping on a couch at a friend’s rented home near the University of Nevada, Reno.
Her body was found Feb. 15 in a brush-covered lot in south Reno. An autopsy showed she was raped and strangled.
Investigators said from the beginning they believed the suspect, who taunted police by leaving two pair of intertwined women’s panties at the site where Denison’s body was found, lived in the area.
Public records show Biela has lived in the Reno area since 2002.
Police also said DNA evidence linked Denison’s killer to at least two other sex attacks on women at or near UNR from October to December 2007.