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DNA, fingerprints lead to 2 arrests in Port St. Lucie home invasion

Posted at 4:40 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 18:06:21-04

A trail of discarded clothing from a home invasion in Port St. Lucie led investigators to DNA and fingerprints that positively matched two suspects, according to a recently released police report.

Port St. Lucie Police arrested Dustin Bowen, 22, and William Merchant, 34, of Stuart this week for breaking into a home in the 300 block of Northwest Bayshore Blvd on May 4 and falsely imprisoning three women. Records show the men are stepbrothers.

Bowen and Merchant are accused of using zip-ties on the women while they search the house for “drugs, money and a safe,” court records show. 

A woman called 911 around 3:50 a.m. saying she was held against her will by two men along with her sister and their mother. The men spent two hours searching the house and left it in a state of disarray, an officer reported.

One of the women woke up to her mother screaming as a man pushed her through a door to the house. Another woman says she woke up to a man jumping on her in bed. 

The woman told investigators she tried fighting off the man but he threatened to harm her family and then zip-tied her hands and ankles.

The men zip-tied all three women and brought them into the living room of the home as they took turns searching the house, the report states. A child was also home at the time but did not wake up.

The women told officers they believe the men knew the family because they asked where one of the woman’s son was.

After the men left, one of the women managed to free herself from the ties, cut the other women free, and called the police.

A police K9 tracked down the men’s dark-colored, baggy clothing discarded nearby. The men were also captured on surveillance video of nearby businesses around the time of the alleged home invasion. 

Investigators say DNA collected on a ski mask and gloves found in the discarded clothing matched Bowen and Merchant in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement database. A Coke can found at the time had a fingerprint that matched Bowen, the report states.

Bowen and Merchant were arrested and are being held at the St. Lucie County Jail on about $500,000 bond each.