Attorney General Mike DeWine and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty on Friday announced the first two criminal indictments filed as a result of increased efforts to examine the state's untested rape kits for DNA evidence.
"This is why I decided to make our Bureau of Criminal Investigation available to test all old sexual assault kits that hadn't yet been tested," DeWine said. "These two indictments are just the beginning. Our scientists are getting DNA matches on a regular basis and handing that information over to local law enforcement for further investigation. We are thrilled that our effort is now solving cases."
DeWine expects many more indictments to come. Out of about 600 rape kits tested at the BCI lab so far, 90 have yielded a DNA hit.
This month, indictments were returned in two Cuyahoga County cases dating back about 20 years.
Charles Steele, 60, was indicted by McGinty's office for the rape and kidnapping of a Cleveland woman in 1993. He is accused of attacking the victim at gunpoint after forcing her into an abandoned garage. Two days after that indictment, BCI matched Steele's DNA to another attack on a Cleveland woman that happened eight months after the first incident. Charges in that case are pending. The suspect is currently in prison on a Hamilton County rape conviction.
"Law enforcement has a duty to give prison DNA matches a 110 percent effort because number one they are almost certain convictions and number two they incapacitate the offender and prevent him from committing his next rape," McGinty said. "These cases should be law enforcement's highest priority. Dollar for dollar this is the most productive use of a detective's time, bar none."
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office also indicted Anthony Moore, 42, this week on charges of rape, kidnapping, felonious assault, and attempted murder in connection with another 1993 crime. Detectives with the Cleveland Police Department investigated the case.
"These indictments reflect the hard work of our detectives and their dedication to the cold cases which they continue to investigate. The initiative has already proven to be successful and shows how our partnership with BCI results in solving these cases, even after many years," Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said. "Most importantly, the indictments will hopefully bring some comfort to the victims and their families as they continue on the road to recovery."
So far, 53 law enforcement agencies have submitted a total of 2,465 rape kits to BCI for the DNA testing services, which are free to law enforcement. More than 1,000 of those cases are from Cleveland.
"More DNA hits mean more cold cases become open investigations for our local law enforcement agencies," DeWine said. "My office is dedicated to helping our local authorities resolve as many of these cases as possible. I encourage any department with sexual assault kits that have not been tested, no matter how old the case is, to submit them now. We want them. We want to help bring justice to the victims. We want to solve more cases."
DeWine announced the sexual assault kit testing initiative in December 2011, hiring four new Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) forensic scientists to focus exclusively on testing the old kits. The scientists went through a period of training before beginning the testing in May 2012.