Reno Police: DNA Mixup Doesn't Change Serial Rapist Probe

DNA on a pair of women's panties found with the body of Brianna Denison did not belong to the serial rapist suspected of killing her as was earlier reported but investigators remain convinced he's the one who left the underwear there, police said Monday.

Denison's body was found Feb. 15 in a field near a southwest Reno business park. Reno police first disclosed on Feb. 19 that the DNA of an unknown woman was on the pair of thong underwear along with the DNA of the serial rapist who kidnapped and strangled the 19-year-old college student.

But Reno Police Lt. Robert McDonald said Monday the DNA belongs to an unknown male and female. He provided little explanation of the mix-up other than "somebody was misinformed" previously.

Independent of the underwear, DNA has linked Denison's killer to the sexually motivated attacks of at least two college women in the area, one in November and another in December.

"It's really not that big of deal," McDonald said of the new information about the underwear.

"We still have a forensic connection by DNA to Brianna and the two previous attacks, the abduction scene and the scene where Brianna was found," he told The Associated Press. "We are still certain he left the underwear. We are 100 percent convinced the offender left the underwear there."

An October sexual assault at gunpoint has not been forensically linked, but police believe it is connected as well.

Police have not provided any detailed information about the exact location of the panties found with Denison's body.

"But they weren't left lying in the field by somebody else. Why it was left there we don't know. We don't know if it was taunting. We don't believe it was. They may have been left there by accident," McDonald said Monday.

"We still need somebody to come forward" and identify the underwear, he said.

The black thong-style underwear has pink hearts and the head of the cartoon character the Pink Panther. Investigators are trying to determine whether the unknown DNA belonged to another woman who may have been assaulted.

In at least one of the other attacks, the man made off with a pair of women's panties, he McDonald aid.

Denison, a sophomore at Santa Barbara City College in California, was visiting her hometown over winter break when she was abducted Jan. 20 while she slept on a couch in a friend's home near the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.