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First “John Doe” DNA cold case rapist is identfied

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Feb 5, 2014 at 5:07 PM

A "John Doe" suspect, indicted in April for the 1993 rape of a 13-year-old girl and the 1996 rape of a 37-year-old woman, was identified by Cuyahoga County authorities after his DNA was taken following his conviction in connection with a separate crime. 

George Young, 48, of Cleveland, is currently serving a 32-year prison sentence after his conviction last year on charges of felonious assault and improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or school. DNA collected following that conviction then matched DNA collected from the 1993 and 1996 rape kits tested as part of the Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Testing Initiative.

DeWine announced the SAK testing initiative in December 2011 by offering free DNA testing to any law enforcement agency with untested rape kits in which a crime was believed to have been committed. Many of the kits submitted as part of the initiative are between one and two decades old.

In Cuyahoga County, prosecutors and investigators working as part of a DNA Cold Case Task Force have, so far, generated 76 indictments as a result of the SAK testing initiative. Among those indictments are nearly two dozen "John Doe" indictments, in which prosecutors have indicted unknown individuals identified only by their unique DNA fingerprint in cases approaching the expiration of the 20-year statute of limitations for rape.

"I applaud the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office for indicting these "John Doe" cases on the chance of an eventual DNA match," DeWine said. "This case goes to show that rape survivors should not give up hope if a there isn't an immediate DNA match in their case because a match could happen in the future."

As of February 1, 2014:

    Forensic scientists with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) have received 5,523 previously untested rape kits from 121 law enforcement agencies in Ohio.

    BCI has completed DNA testing on 2,737of those rape kits.

    The DNA testing has led to 886 hits in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Now that the first of 21 “John Doe” rape defendants indicted based on their DNA profiles has been identified as Young, the case can now proceed toward trial, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said.

“These stranger rapists boldly commit their heinous deeds in secrecy, thinking no one will ever know who they are,’’ said Assistant County Prosecutor Rick Bell, Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Prosecutor’s Office. “With this motion we are revealing his identity. This coward is getting his just deserts.”

Young’s DNA profile matched those generated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation when it tested sexual assault kits from the two Cleveland rape victims. But the information initially did not match the profile of any known offender in the state’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) data base.

Then last March, Young was convicted by a Cuyahoga County jury on six felony counts. Evidence presented by the State of Ohio proved that Young had fired into a crowd after being asked to leave a party on East 59th Street. Three people were severely injured. Common Pleas Court Judge Steven E. Gall sentenced Young to 32 years in prison.

Once Young entered the Ohio prison system, his DNA sample was taken and the resulting information was put into the CODIS data base. His DNA matched that found in the two rape kits from Cleveland. Cuyahoga County investigators received the lead in September of 2013. After additional investigation, prosecutors moved to amend the indictment.

“George Young was a one-man crime wave, exactly the type of defendant Prosecutor McGinty talks about as a primary reason that we need to pursue these cases,’’ said Assistant County Prosecutor Brian McDonough, who manages the DNA Cold Case Task Force within the Criminal Investigations Division. “Holding him accountable for his crimes is the right thing for the victims and for the community.”

McDonough said the Task Force hopes to identify all of the John Doe defendants.To assist in that effort, the Prosecutor’s Office has posted a map on its web site of where the John Doe attacks took place.

Citizens who may have information about any of these crimes can now reach the Task Force through a new email address: dna@prosecutor.cuyahogacounty.us

The multi-agency DNA Cold Case Task Force was established by Prosecutor McGinty in March of 2013 to capitalize on new evidence being generated by DeWine’s offer to have BCI conduct DNA tests on backlogged rape kits. More than 4,000 kits have been submitted to BCI from law enforcement agencies in Cuyahoga County.

The Task Force so far  has generated 76 indictments – including the now 20 that identify the perpetrator only by his DNA profile.

In each “John Doe” case so far in Cuyahoga County, the 20-year statute of limitations against prosecuting the offender in at least one rape incident might have expired but for the DNA profile indictments.

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