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Police say a man arrested in Illinois has admitted to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl at a St. Paul bus stop back in 2016.

The St. Paul Police Department announced the arrest of the 19-year-old Friday morning, saying he was located in Cahokia Heights, Illinois, and taken into custody April 4. The man admitted to the sexual assault in an interview with authorities, SPPD said, and a DNA sample from the 2016 attack came back as a match.

The suspect would have been 13 years old at the time of the incident, so his name is not being made public, St. Paul police said.

The disturbing incident happened just after 8 a.m. on May 2, 2016, with officers called to Cook Avenue and Park Street after a bus driver saw the 5-year-old crying, bleeding and partially unclothed. She'd missed her own school bus that morning, police said.

A medical examination determined she'd been sexually assaulted. 

The case has remained opened since then, with St. Paul police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), FBI and Ramsey County Attorney's Office all involved. A break came on Dec. 1, 2021, thanks to a DNA check.

"A DNA sample collected in 2016, which had been periodically searched through the National DNA Index System, came back with a profile match," the St. Paul Police Department said. "Further investigation led investigators to the suspect."

The suspect remains in St. Clair County Jail, awaiting extradition to Minnesota.

“This case is an example of why we never give up or stop working on behalf of victims,” said St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell in a news release. “I am beyond grateful for the exhaustive investigative work by dozens and dozens of dedicated law enforcement professionals who kept working and working and working.

"They poured their hearts and souls into the case, carried its weight in their minds, on their backs and in their hearts for 2,166 days—and persevered. Hopefully, justice can be served, and this can be another step towards healing for the little girl and her family.”

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