Arrest in Blinn Student's Murder Still Leaves Many Questions

By: Ashlea Sigman Email
By: Ashlea Sigman Email

Police didn't connect the cases until he was arrested, but now a Bryan man's charges on both murder and a separate home burglary are leaving a lot of questions.

Blinn College Student Jenna Verhaalen was murdered in April. Detectives believe Jeremiah Rosser to be her killer, based on DNA evidence.

Verhaalen's boyfriend told police that when he left Verhaalen's apartment just after midnight April 9th, she was alive. The next morning, police say he found her body and called 911.

Jeremiah Rosser says he wasn't in Verhaalen's apartment the night she died, but Bryan police believe otherwise.

On November 3rd, Police arrested 27-year-old Rosser and charged him with Verhaalen's murder.

"He was a person of interest being that he worked at the apartment complex while Jenna lived there," said Bryan Police Detective Lance Mathews.

For five months, Rosser was a maintenance worker at Autumn Woods. He left 10 days after Verhaalen died.

Police say it was DNA that eventually linked the two after other samples failed to match.

"DNA Samples, I'd say probably 20 at least, over 20," said Mathews.

Detectives say the 20-year-old Blinn College student was strangled by hand. An autopsy found small blood stains on her collar and DNA from the same person under her fingernails.

"Could be consistent with her trying to release a grip that an attacker may have had on her," said Mathews.

After interviewing between 100 and 200 people, officers spoke with Rosser October 1st. Nearly a month later, detectives learned he was a DNA match.

Police say when they arrested Rosser and searched his car, they found a laptop linking him to a May burglary in Autumn woods, along with keys to some of the apartments.

Detectives say four of them still worked, and one matched the apartment with the stolen computer.

"There's no other signs of forced entry or any other means of entry," said Mathews.

Police say they aren't sure if Rosser had a key to Verhaalen's apartment or intentions of stealing anything.

"She had very modest belongings and she worked for everything she had from what I understand. She worked on a waitress salary and paid her way through college, so I don't think she spent her money on toys or electronics," said Mathews.

Rosser told police there were no emergency maintenance calls made from Verhaalen's apartment that night. Police say the young woman was not sexually assaulted.

Rosser never lived at Autumn Woods and told police he only went to the complex at night for maintenance emergencies. Detectives are investigating to see if he is connected to other burglaries there.

Any background check the complex may have done on Rosser wouldn't have picked up anything; police say he didn't have a criminal record.

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