DNA match may have solved long-cold child rape case in Ohio

Stephen Vargo, charged with child rape in Martins Ferry

MARTINS FERRY, Ohio (WTRF) – Twenty-two years ago, a 5-year-old girl was playing in the yard outside of her home in Martins Ferry in eastern Ohio. A man came by, offered her a necklace, took her into an alley and raped her.

Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland still remembers that day.

He said police did everything imaginable but never found the “monster” who did it.

Now that has changed.

A man originally from Martins Ferry has been serving time at the Allenwood Federal Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania for a 1999 kidnapping and rape.

Police were notified that DNA taken from that federal prisoner — Stephen L. Vargo, Jr. — is a match to the DNA sample police took at that 1997 Martins Ferry rape scene.

Now after 22 years, police are gratified that Vargo will face the rape charge in Belmont County and provide closure for that rape victim, who is now an adult.

“For her sake, this is a big reward for us, to bring justice to her,” McFarland said. “Everything that she has had to deal with in her life for just being outside, being a kid, and having this monster come and do this to her. So hopefully at the end of this, we can have justice for her.”

Vargo is due in court on Thursday to be arraigned on the charge.

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