Deputies: DNA ties Collier County man to sexual assault, robbery in Walmart parking lot

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John Taylor Morris III (Credit: CCSO booking photo)

DNA evidence led to the arrest Wednesday morning of a 56-year-old Collier County man who deputies say sexually assaulted and robbed a woman inside her vehicle in an East Naples store parking lot in March.

John Taylor Morris III is being held in the Collier County Jail on charges of sexual assault, robbery, and burglary of an occupied conveyance.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office reports say the victim was inside her locked vehicle in the parking lot at Walmart, 9885 Collier Blvd., around 5 a.m. March 18 when a man she didn’t know approached and attempted to open the front driver and passenger doors. The victim, who is homeless and lives in her vehicle, told detectives the man began to yell for help, so she opened the door. He forced his way inside and attacked her, stealing her wallet in the process. The victim was able to kick the suspect and escape.

Security camera footage shows Morris inside and outside the store around the time of the incident.

The victim told detectives her attacker cut his hand on a broken car door handle. Blood evidence was recovered from the victim’s clothing and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) lab for DNA analysis in the national database. Results showed that the DNA collected at the scene matched with Morris.

On June 30, detectives obtained a warrant to conduct a biological search on Morris. The warrant was served and buccal swabs were collected from him and sent to the FDLE lab for processing. On Aug. 5, the FDLE lab report confirmed the blood found on victim’s clothing belonged to Morris. The report stated: “The DNA profile from the waist of the victim’s sweatpants matches the DNA profile from the suspect. The observed DNA profile is greater than 700 billion times more likely to occur if the sample originated from the suspect than from an unrelated individual.”

Deputies located Morris when they were called to a report of a suspicious incident at an East Naples hotel early Wednesday. They said Morris appeared to be masturbating with his hands inside his shorts in front of a minor in the hotel’s pool area. Deputies said he was highly intoxicated at the time. He was taken to the Collier County Jail and booked on multiple felony charges in connection with the March sexual assault in the Walmart parking lot.

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