Police said Sunday a positive DNA link has been established between the Jan. 20 abduction of a college student from a Reno home and a December sexual assault of another student who lived a few blocks away.

At a late afternoon news conference, Reno police commander Ron Holladay said investigators think the same unidentified white male in his 30s is responsible for the earlier assault and last week's kidnapping of Brianna Denison, 19, from a friend's house near the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

"Our chances of capturing the suspect are exponentially increased now because of the DNA," Holladay said. "He probably lives in the area. It's still my hope that Brianna is alive, and we're expending every resource possible to get her back safely."

Holladay said the match between DNA samples obtained from the scenes of Denison's disappearance and the earlier assault allowed investigators to make a major breakthrough in the case.

He said the victim of the earlier case was interviewed again after the match was made and a more detailed description of the suspect was developed.

That victim, a UNR student, was kidnapped outside her home on Dec. 16 and sexually assaulted. She also was the victim of a Jan. 19 attempted burglary at her home that may be connected to the same suspect, Holladay said.