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DNA solves 1993 Raleigh rape case, AG Cooper announces

Release date: 6/2/2005

SBI Lab pinpoints suspect leading Raleigh police to arrest

Raleigh: New DNA analysis has identified a suspect in a brutal unsolved rape and robbery that occurred in Raleigh in 1993, Attorney General Roy Cooper and Raleigh Chief of Police Jane Perlov announced Thursday.

“This is just one example of how DNA can help bring a rapist to justice, give the victim some peace of mind and protect the public,” said Cooper. “I’m proud of the tremendous progress we’re making with DNA technology but I’m concerned that public safety is at risk if we don’t keep pushing. More repeat offenders can be stopped with more DNA help.”

“The results in this case demonstrate why other police chiefs and I have strongly supported additional resources for DNA analysis,” said Raleigh Chief of Police Jane Perlov. “The charges announced today show clearly how valuable the results can be and illustrate the importance of the cooperative working relationship between local law enforcement and the SBI.”

In March of 2005, SBI DNA analysts began retesting evidence from a rape that occurred on April 13, 1993 at Hidden Pond Drive in Raleigh. The then 22 year-old female victim was returning home after going to the movies when an unknown attacker pulled a handgun on her in the parking lot. He robbed her of purse and raped her.

The case had originally been submitted to the SBI by Raleigh Police in June of 1994 but no DNA match was made at the time. Thanks to more resources at the Crime Lab and updated equipment, the SBI was able to retest the evidence this spring using new technology and obtain a DNA profile of the suspect that could be used to search the state’s DNA database.

The agents ran the unknown suspect’s DNA profile through North Carolina’s database of convicted offenders and discovered that it matched Vincent T. Hall, 31, who is currently in prison at Columbus Correctional Institute for murder and eligible for parole. Based on DNA evidence, Raleigh Police today charged Hall with rape and armed robbery for the April 1993 crimes. Hall is currently serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for the murder of Kier Lohbeck, an employee of Blockbuster Video who was killed outside the video rental store on Avent Ferry Road in Raleigh on January 25, 1994.

The DNA match that led to the Raleigh arrest is one of 148 matches to the state’s DNA database since North Carolina began requiring DNA samples from all convicted felons. The database has yielded more hits in the past 17 months since the all felons law Cooper pushed for took effect than in the previous 11 years.

This latest success is part of Cooper’s efforts with the State Bureau of Investigation to use DNA technology to solve cold cases, including clearing untested rape kits from local law enforcement agencies statewide. Experts from the SBI’s Forensic Biology section have gone to law enforcement agencies across the state to help them screen thousands of untested rape kits, eliminating more than 5,900 kits and shipping 514 to a private laboratory for DNA analysis. The evidence is used to search the DNA database and solve cold cases.

While legislators appropriated money to outsource testing of some rape kits last year, they failed to add additional agents requested by Cooper and recommended by Gov. Mike Easley for the SBI lab that analyzes DNA evidence. This year, Cooper has again requested analysts for the SBI’s Forensic Biology lab to focus on getting convicted offenders’ DNA into the state’s database. More analysts will also help the Crime Lab provide DNA analysis more quickly to keep solving rapes, murders and other violent crimes, including cold cases.

Cooper has long pushed to expand North Carolina’s ability to use DNA evidence to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. In 2000, North Carolina had only six SBI agents qualified to analyze DNA, but thanks to internal transfers and General Assembly help the SBI has more than tripled the number of DNA experts.

The Attorney General also led the fight in 2003 to make North Carolina the 29th state to include all felons in its convicted offender DNA database, giving detectives a better chance of catching repeat offenders and solving cold cases. Prior to the all-felon law taking effect there were approximately 41,000 samples in North Carolina’s database of convicted offender DNA. Under the new law, the database had grown to more than 54,000 DNA profiles with thousands more samples soon to be added.

“DNA is rock solid evidence that can help law enforcement zero in on criminals and help victims and their families find justice,” said Cooper. “We’ve made great progess with this crime fighting technology but we can’t stop now.”