South Florida

DNA leads to arrest 23 years after teen was raped by stranger who offered ride to school

Jeffries Jackson
Jeffries Jackson Palm Beach Sheriff's Office

Nearly 24 years after a 14-year-old was raped after accepting a ride to school from a stranger, police say they have found the man responsible.

On Wednesday, the West Palm Beach Police Department announced the arrest of 63-year-old Jeffries Jackson after a recent DNA test revealed a match.

Jackson was taken into custody Wednesday by the U.S. Marshals Service and was expected to face a judge Thursday.

“I think it’s important for the victim to have some kind of closure,” said Sgt. David Lefont. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

Lefont said the teen was waiting at her bus stop the morning of Nov. 20, 1995, when a man approached her and asked her if she needed a ride. Instead of taking her to school, he took her somewhere else and sexually assaulted her, police said.

At the time, there were no suspects and DNA evidence worked a lot differently,” Lefont said.

“We couldn’t send it out unless we had a suspect,” he said.

But in recent years there has been a statewide effort to decrease the backlog of rape kits.

About two years ago, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, with the help of a grant, began testing old rape kits. Lefont said getting a hit is validation for the detectives who may have thought their efforts to preserve evidence were “fruitless at the time.”

After getting a match to Jackson, Lefont said the victim was able to identify him out of a lineup.

Jackson, who has been arrested in the past on charges including theft and traffic violations, now faces a charge of sexual assault on a minor.

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.