This ‘CSI: Miami’ actress was threatened by a stalker for 12 years. The FBI caught him after he left his DNA on a fast-food straw

They got here within the mail to Eva LaRue’s Southern California home — generally handwritten, generally typed — from an unknown sender who referred to as himself “Freddie Krueger” and vowed to rape and kill her and her younger daughter.

The letters — greater than three dozen of them — stored on coming for greater than 12 years, a relentless psychological assault that made the “CSI: Miami” actress and her household afraid to step outdoors their house.

Early on, some letters talked about LaRue’s daughter, then 5. However in 2015, letters started arriving addressed to the kid. The stalker additionally started calling LaRue’s daughter’s faculty, saying that he was her father and was outdoors to choose her up.

However with the assistance of genetic family tree, a science that was used for the primary time in California to seize the Golden State Killer, the FBI in 2019 was capable of take DNA from the envelopes and run it by way of a database, yielding an inventory of the suspect’s kinfolk. This ultimately led them to a small city in Ohio, the place they arrested a 58-year-old man after pulling his DNA from a discarded Arby’s straw.

James David Rogers was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in federal jail. The Heath, Ohio, man pleaded responsible in April to 2 counts of mailing threatening communications, one rely of threats by interstate communications, and two counts of stalking.

“I forgive you, but I cannot forget,” LaRue instructed him on the sentencing in a Los Angeles County courtroom. “The fear is with me forever.”

12 years of terror

LaRue is a former magnificence queen and longtime actress who appeared for a few years as a physician on the cleaning soap opera “All My Children.” She’s most likely greatest identified for her seven seasons on the crime drama “CSI: Miami,” ending in 2012.

Her character was a DNA analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Division, which turned a bitter irony when authorities discovered DNA on envelopes containing the threatening letters however could not pinpoint a suspect.

LaRue was halfway by way of her second full season on “CSI: Miami” when the primary letter confirmed up at her home. Others quickly adopted.

“I am going to f**king stalk you until the day you die,” mentioned one, based on a 2019 federal indictment of Rogers.

“There will be no place on this earth that I … (can’t) find you. I am going to rape you,” mentioned one other letter, by which the stalker additionally threatened to rape and impregnate LaRue’s daughter.

The letters have been signed “Freddie Krueger,” the fictional killer from the horror movie collection “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Many have been postmarked from Youngstown, Ohio.

LaRue instructed CNN she was so terrified that she ultimately offered her home and moved together with her household to Italy, the place they lived for a number of months with a pal. She then returned to California and acquired a brand new home underneath an LLC — a enterprise entity that gives restricted legal responsibility safety — to defend her identification, however the letters started displaying up at that deal with as effectively, she mentioned.

LaRue and her daughter “drove circuitous routes home, slept with weapons nearby and had discussions about how to seek help quickly if [Rogers] found them and tried to harm them,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“They tried to anonymize their addresses as much as possible by avoiding receiving mail and packages at their actual address,” prosecutors mentioned. “To no avail. Each time they moved, [the] letters — and the victims’ terror — would always follow.”

In 2015, the household began receiving letters addressed to LaRue’s daughter. On the time, she was about 13.

“I am the man who has been stalking for (the) last 7 years. Now I have set my eye on you too,” the primary one learn, based on the indictment. One other one learn, “You look so beautiful in your pictures on google. Are you ready to be the mother of my child.”

How the FBI caught the stalker

The FBI collected DNA from most of the envelopes however did not know whose it was till 2019, once they turned to the rising subject of genetic family tree — the identical methodology that had fingered the Golden State Killer the earlier 12 months.

Thanks partially to corporations comparable to 23andMe, Ancestry and GEDmatch, genetic family tree has develop into a beneficial instrument for legislation enforcement officers attempting to resolve outdated crimes. Authorities add a DNA knowledge file to a public database to determine any kinfolk of the one who might need submitted their DNA for testing. They then construct out household bushes and slender down attainable suspects through old school detective work till a lead suspect emerges.

Even so, investigators nonetheless should receive a pattern of the suspect’s DNA and make a match earlier than they will make an arrest.

As soon as the proof pointed to Rogers, FBI brokers started surveilling him. FBI brokers traveled to Ohio within the fall of 2019, former FBI particular agent Stephen Busch and former FBI legal professional Steve Kramer instructed CNN.

When Rogers left his job as a nurse’s assistant at an assisted dwelling facility and went to an Arby’s on his approach house, the FBI adopted and watched him eat his meal and discard the bag in a Dumpster, Busch and Kramer mentioned.

Brokers raided the Dumpster and extracted Rogers’ DNA from a soda straw within the bag, Busch and Kramer mentioned. It matched the DNA from the envelopes despatched to LaRue and her daughter, they mentioned.

The FBI arrested Rogers at his house early one morning in November 2019.

Rogers’ conviction marks the primary time genetic family tree has solved a case on the federal degree, Busch and Kramer instructed CNN.

Their worry nonetheless lingers

At his sentencing Thursday, Rogers instructed the choose through a video hyperlink from Ohio that he grew up in an abusive house and was bullied in class. He mentioned he’s receiving psychological well being therapy.

“I sincerely apologize for what I did for the last 12 years, putting you and your family through hellish behavior,” he mentioned to LaRue. “I accept full responsibility. I hope you can put this behind you and at some point never think about me again.”

LaRue and her daughter, Kaya McKenna Callahan, at the 27th Annual LA Art Show Gala  on January 19, 2022, in Los Angeles.

LaRue then addressed Rogers in her sufferer influence assertion, thanking him for his apology however telling the choose, “I am so worried what will happen when he gets out out.”

She grew emotional as she instructed the courtroom how the repeated threats took a toll on her and her household and disadvantaged them of fundamental freedoms.

“We have had years of this,” she mentioned. “This is beyond deviant behavior.”

LaRue’s daughter Kaya Callahan, now 20, additionally turned emotional as she instructed the courtroom how she was traumatized by Rogers’ threats.

After Rogers contacted her faculty, she mentioned there was such “paranoia” about her security that she was escorted day-after-day to and from the college constructing to the car parking zone.

“I was afraid for my life,” she mentioned. Callahan mentioned her worry nonetheless lingers.

“I want to feel OK again,” she mentioned. “Safe.”