DNA links Gleason man to rape
Posted: Thursday, September 3, 2009 9:04 pm
Messenger Staff Reporter
DNA evidence collected from the scene of the most recent sexual assault in Martin has resulted in a Gleason man’s being charged with aggravated rape and theft over $1,000.
Bruce Tuck, 35, was scheduled to be arraigned in a Weakley County court today at 1 p.m. on the charges, which stem from a home invasion Sunday on Raven Street in Martin.
He was taken into custody Wednesday evening at 340 Phelps St. in Gleason in rural Weakley County at the home he has been sharing with his parents.
Authorities said Tuck complained of chest pains after being taken into custody Wednesday evening and was transported to a local hospital for evaluation before being released into police custody this morning. He was booked into the Weakley County Detention Center at 6 a.m. today.
Tuck’s arrest came as the result of an ongoing investigation by numerous law enforcement agencies in the wake of a string of sexual assaults that have occurred in Martin and in Shelby County since June.
The official charges against Tuck were read this morning by Martin Police Chief David Moore during a press conference at the Martin Police Department.
According to the affidavit of complaint, investigation revealed Tuck allegedly entered the home on Raven Street by breaking the glass of a door at the back of the home and, once inside, came in contact with three victims. He allegedly produced a small black handgun, threatened them and bound them.
He allegedly licked the breast of one of the female victims before forcing a female victim to engage in both anal and vaginal sex, according to the affidavit.
During the incident, he allegedly stole several items of personal property.
Moore said upon further investigation, DNA recovered at the scene matched the suspect. A search warrant was conducted at both the home where Tuck was residing and a storage building, with items recovered from the incident that occurred in Martin.
Moore said beyond what is listed in the affidavit, he cannot comment on any other recent cases in Martin or Shelby County. Since June, a total of three sexual assaults have occurred in Martin and two in Cordova and Memphis. Each of the victims described the suspect as having a large belly, wearing a mask and brandishing a black handgun.
District Attorney General Tommy Thomas said he cannot speak about evidence in the case, but he said his heart goes out to the victims and their families. He pledged that his office will do everything possible to assist them and help during the healing process.
Thomas commended law enforcement for their efforts in working together during the joint investigation and said numerous agencies were involved — including the Martin Police Department, Memphis Police Department, Weakley County Sheriff’s Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Gleason Police Department, University of Tennessee at Martin campus police, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and other area agencies.
He said they worked hand in hand and showed great cooperation, accumulating hundreds of man hours to solve the case.
Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell said the issue has been of great interest in Shelby County since June. He said he is pleased with the progress of the investigation and said the evidence will continue to be researched to see if there is any connection to the sexual assault incidents in Shelby County. He pledged that the case will be pursued “to the final degree.”
Law enforcement officials also praised the cooperation of the TBI and specifically the agency’s lab expertise and forensics assistance.
TBI Special Agent in Charge John Mehr reiterated how well the law enforcement agencies have worked together in recent weeks.
“Everybody threw their badges on the table and worked as one,” he said.
Mehr said another key component in the investigation has been tips that came from people in the community. He said those tips are very important and he urged the community to continue to report any tips that they think may be helpful in the ongoing investigation.
Anyone who has information is asked to contact the Martin Police Department at (731) 587-5355, Crime Stoppers at (731) 587-2611 or the TBI hotline toll-free at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
In concluding this morning’s press conference, Moore expressed his appreciation to numerous investigators and officers who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes. He said his only regret was that an arrest could not have been made any sooner, but he said he feels like the dedication shown by everyone — from patrol and communications personnel all the way through investigations — are what prevented there from being more victims.
“I truly believe that. So my hat goes off to them,” he said.
Published in The Messenger 9.3.09