For 14 years, lawmen chased the elusive "Wooded Rapist," a man they believed committed at least 13 rapes. A 10-pound dog and an astute couple from out of town helped give police a major break in this case.more>>
LA VERGNE, Tenn. - Key evidence can come from strange places.
A plate of catfish helped break one of the biggest criminal cases in recent history.
DNA lifted from a meal eaten by the so-called "Wooded Rapist" led to his arrest.
Detectives tracked Robert Jason Burdick, but needed a sample of his DNA before they could make an arrest. Burdick was suspected of committing at least 13 rapes between 1994 and 2008.
They got collected the evidence from Tee Gee's, a restaurant in La Vergne known for its catfish. It is one of La Vergne's oldest restaurants.
Server Jake Garvin didn't recognize Burdick when he walked in last week and ordered catfish.
But it turns out Burdick wasn't alone. Moments after he sat down, Garvin said two plain-clothed Brentwood detectives came in and sat at a table across the room.
When Burdick finished and left the eatery, the detectives went to Burdick's table and started bagging his dishes.
"Anything that went in his mouth they could pull DNA off of, anything that they can pull fingerprints off of," Garvin said.
Garvin said Burdick wasn't a regular customer.
Police already suspected Burdick might be the so-called "Wooded Rapist" who attacked women in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties. But they needed a DNA sample to match with DNA taken from the victims.
They found it on dishes, silverware and the cup Burdick used during his meal.
The restaurant didn't know anything about the undercover detectives until Burdick left.
The restaurant was glad to cooperate and Tee Gee's is proud they played a part in the arrest.
Burdick remains in the Davidson County jail. He sits alone in a special management unit. He still refuses to talk with investigators.
A pastor and three lawyers have visited him since his arrest Thursday.