FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Six Fayetteville women were raped by the same man in less than two years. It took police over a decade before making an arrest.
Since then, CBS 17 has learned the suspect is no stranger to law enforcement. An investigation has uncovered a series of run-ins with police that some believe should have raised a red flag about this repeat offender.
So, are laws in North Carolina concerning habitual criminals strong enough?
After a 12-year search, Fayetteville police arrested a man for a string of unsolved rapes.
“We put a lot of time in these cases. You think for three years, I have poured my heart and soul in these and a lot of other cases. I’m sorry. You know, I’m just glad we got this guy finally.” said Lt. John Somerindyke. He had trouble holding back his emotions.
It was a sense of relief as Darold Wayne Bowden was arrested and charged in the six rapes that left a community on edge. One of the victims, Kobi Haschen, said she has run through the gamut of emotions.
“I would really like for him to have what he did to all of us done to him. But I know that he’ll be behind bars, and he will have no chance of ever getting out, and I’m pretty confident that’s going to be the outcome.” Haschen said.
But what if this never had to happen? A six-month investigation by CBS 17 found Bowden was well known by law enforcement long before his August sexual assault arrest. Bowden first served time in 1993 for larceny. CBS 17 has obtained the documents that outline the 71 criminal filings against him since 1998 after his release from prison.
Some of the more serious charges: four for assault on a female, two charges for assault with a deadly weapon, as well as one charge for pointing a gun at someone.
“He certainly had many interactions with law enforcement that would have him be on Fayetteville PD’s radar. That’s for certain.” said Shawn Fields, a law professor at Campbell University.
Fields looked through hundreds of pages of criminal filings. Fields said a combination of luck and a crowded judicial system are all reasons why Bowden stayed out of prison.
“He’s gone right up to the lines of skirting the law before the rapes were allegedly committed. He committed and was convicted of several offenses that were serious enough to land him in prison, but not so serious to keep him incarcerated during the period of time that the rapes were committed.” Fields said.
“Frankly, when you have that kind of constant run in with law enforcement, his DNA should have been in the data bank.” Rep. Billy Richardson said.
Richardson wrote a law making it mandatory for anyone convicted of a felony to have their DNA taken and placed in the North Carolina DNA Criminal Database. The law was passed after Bowden’s first conviction. Since his later crimes were never prosecuted as felonies or the cases fell through, his DNA was never taken.
“That should have been tested. That should have been.” Richardson said.
If the laws were different and someone with 71 criminal filings would trigger some type of red flag to impose stiffer penalties for petty crimes, how much safer would our streets be?
“We’re gonna take this case and look at where we fell short and we’re gonna improve on it.” Richardson said. “Within the framework of the Bill of Rights, we can do just like fingerprinting when someone is arrested. We can do more DNA as they are arrested for more serious crimes. … I think on the more serious crimes upon arrest, we can do the DNA rather than upon conviction.”
Making it better legislatively is easier said than done. A lot of red tape goes into change. But from a victim’s standpoint, tougher laws are essential. Haschen believes it may have prevented her from becoming the 4th victim.
“I don’t know exactly how the laws are set right now, but I think they need to start with lesser crimes being mandatory to collect DNA.” Haschen said.
Many states already have legislation where DNA is taken upon arrest of certain crimes as opposed to convictions on those crimes.
Haschen told CBS 17 she is working to get that legislation passed here in North Carolina.
In part four of this series, CBS 17 will take a closer look at the genealogical DNA technology that lead to an arrest in this case over a decade after the crimes were committed.