Jesse Bjerke was charged with the kidnapping and sexual assaults of two lifeguards working at public pools in Virginia. The first incident took place on August 1, 2014, in Fairfax County, Virginia, and the second on September 3, 2016, in Alexandria, Virginia. Bjerke is also charged with using a firearm in the commission of the offences. At the time of the assaults, he was employed as an emergency room nurse.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs. The initial confirmation was made through surreptitious sampling, both of Bjerke’s garbage and of an item he discarded at a restaurant. The City of Alexandria also reported that, at the time of his arrest, Bjerke had been reading about the use of FGG to identify suspects in crimes, and that he had sought to delete some public information about himself.
Bjerke pled guilty to the offences and has been sentenced to 65-years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Bjerke is appealing this decision, and his guilty plea will be withdrawn if his appeal is successful. His attorneys allege that Bjerke’s DNA was collected and searched without a warrant in a way that violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The Alexandria County Circuit Court Judge, Lisa Kemler, ruled against the defence, and admitted the DNA evidence.
Bjerke appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. The matter was heard on December 14, 2021. His attorneys challenged the surreptitious sampling of DNA shed in public places and argued that police were required to obtain a warrant before sampling the drinking straws for his DNA. They did not challenge the use of FGG, or the results of the forensic DNA profile.
On February 03, 2022, the Petition for Appeal was refused, and his conviction will now stand.
Augenstein, Neal. “DNA Database Search Leads to Suspect, Guilty Plea in 2016 Virginia Rape.” WTOP News, October 17, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://wtop.com/alexandria/2019/10/dna-database-search-leads-to-suspect-guilty-plea-in-2016-virginia-rape/.
Augenstein, Neal. “Man Convicted of Raping Alexandria Lifeguard Pleads Guilty to Earlier Fairfax Co. Rape.” WTOP News, March 19, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://wtop.com/virginia/2020/03/man-convicted-of-raping-alexandria-lifeguard-pleads-guilty-to-earlier-fairfax-co-rape/.
Augenstein, Neal. “Man Convicted of Raping Two Lifeguards Appeals to Va. Supreme Court Over DNA Collected from Drinking Straws.” WTOP News, December 10, 2021. Accessed December 28, 2021. https://wtop.com/virginia/2021/12/man-convicted-of-raping-two-lifeguards-appeals-to-va-supreme-court-over-dna-collected-from-drinking-straws/.
Bjerke v. Commonwealth of Virginia. Case Information. Accessed January 13, 2023. https://eapps.courts.state.va.us/acms-public/caseInquiry/showCasePublicInquiry?caseId=354420&searchName=Bjerke+&searchType=Case&partyType=APL&status=both&caseTypeCheck=&lowerTribunalCheck=&caseType=&tribunal=&lowerTribunalNumber=&lowerTribunalNumberCheck=.
City of Alexandria. “Bjerke Convicted of Rape and Firearms Offences.” Government of Alexandria, Virginia (Press Release), November 1, 2019, archived. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.alexandriava.gov/commattorney/info/default.aspx?id=111830.
Fox 5 News. “Registered Nurse Charged in 2016 Alexandria Lifeguard Rape.” Fox 5 News, February 13, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.fox5dc.com/news/registered-nurse-charged-in-2016-alexandria-lifeguard-rape.
Mello-Klein, Cody. “Former Alexandria Nurse Convicted of Rape and Firearms Offences.” Alexandria Times, October 31, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://alextimes.com/2019/10/alexandria-rape/.
Moore, Jack. “Police Canvassing Neighborhood After Alexandria Pool Rape.” WTOP News, September 5, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://wtop.com/alexandria/2016/09/police-canvassing-neighborhood-alexandria-pool-rape/.