DNA evidence leads to arrest of man in 6-year-old fondling case at Sky Ranch Camp

Crime & Public Safety

TYLER, Texas (KETK) — DNA evidence has led to the arrest of a man charged with inappropriately touching a girl who was sleeping in a cabin at Sky Ranch Christian Camp in 2015.

Caylon Whittington, 29, of Mineola, has been charged with burglary of a habitation with intent to commit a sex offense. His bond is set at $250,000.

Whittington was arrested in Llano County on April 6 and transferred to the Smith County Jail on April 19, said information from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

On March 8, 2015, Smith County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of an assault at Sky Ranch Camp on County Road 448 near Van. Deputies were told that a white man snuck into a cabin at night and inappropriately touched a 9-year-old girl who was sleeping.

The girl was attending a Green Acres Baptist Church children’s retreat at the camp.

At the time, the mother of the girl told KETK News: “There were other moms in there, but he wasn’t seen really. He climbed into bed with my daughter, and spooned her, and nibbled on her ear, and then reached around to the front of her and down her pajama bottoms, and at that time she woke up and slapped his hand and ran to the bathroom. And when she did that, he jumped up causing one of the moms in there to see that movement, and they jumped up and chased him out of the room, but he got away into the woods.”

The girl received a sexual assault exam and a forensic interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County and told authorities the man who touched her had tattoos on his arms.

Investigators spoke with men in the area of the camp who matched the description of the man who entered the cabin. One of the men was Whittington, who lived about a mile from the cabin. He denied that he was responsible, the sheriff’s office said.

On Oct. 15, 2020, notification of a CODIS match was received based on the testing of evidence collected during the SANE exam, the sheriff’s office said.

CODIS, the Combined DNA Index System, is a national database comprised of several indexes including DNA profiles of convicted offenders, profiles developed from evidence in unsolved crimes, and profiles developed for the identification of missing persons.

The Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab requested a DNA sample from Whittington for further examination. Investigators using a court warrant forced him to give a DNA sample. On April 1, results from the DPS lab showed Whittington’s DNA matched the sample taken from the girl, the sheriff’s office said.

Judge Kerry Russell issued warrant for Whittington’s arrest.

Smith County judicial records show that Whittington has been charged with several crimes dating back to 2017. These include assault causing bodily injury/family violence, public intoxication, resisting arrest and assault of a family member.

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