Prosecutor credits DNA advancements for North Texas 'sorority rapist's' capture

A man known as the "sorority rapist" will spend the rest of his life in prison more than 20 years after his first crime.

From 2003 to 2011, he raped women across North Texas. They were all connected to the same sorority.

After the life sentence came down Tuesday, the victims read their impact statements and faced the man who assaulted them all those years ago.

A man who might have remained undetected if not for advancements in DNA technology and law enforcement agencies working together to link the cases.

Four North Texas cold cases are now closed.

On Tuesday, 52-year-old Jeffery Wheat pleaded guilty to four home invasion sexual assaults in Tarrant, Dallas, Denton and Collin counties between 2003 and 2011. He got life in prison.

Stephanie Simpson is a Tarrant County assistant criminal district attorney. She prosecuted a 2003 case in Arlington. The victim says a stranger woke her up and raped her in her home. Police collected DNA at the time of the crime.

"All of the swabs from her body and from the crime were sent off for DNA analysis, but unfortunately no findings came back in 2003. So the case ultimately went cold," Simpson said.

The was cold up until April 2011 and another similar home invasion sexual assault in Plano.

According to police records, Wheat used a pay phone at a Mesquite gas station to call the Plano victim and apologize for the attack. But he didn’t stop. 

In September 2011, another rape happened in Coppell. A month later, it happened in Corinth.

All of the 2011 victims were members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The attacker was dubbed the "sorority rapist."

The DNA from those cases matched, but investigators still couldn't get an ID.

"What we know about Jeffery Wheat is that he was absolutely a predator," Simpson said. "He preyed on vulnerable women."

Then in 2018 with advanced DNA testing, genealogy and social media research began.   

"What it basically is, is it’s taking forensic DNA analysis, what we all know and combining it with genetic research and genealogy and combining the two to find unknown suspects," Simpson said.

In 2021, Wheat was arrested in Arkansas and charged with burglary of a habitation with intent to commit sexual assault. 

More DNA tests linked Wheat to the Arlington case and the 2011 cases. He was ultimately charged for the assaults that took place across North Texas.

"The passion between the law enforcement agencies just goes to show when you’re passionate and you care, and you want to see justice served," Simpson said.

According to police records, Wheat worked in 2003 for a home alarm system company, which was the security company used by the victim.

In 2011, the sorority the victims belonged to used a credit card processing company that employed Wheat and would have given him access to their personal information.