Fayetteville ‘Ramsey Street Rapist’ stories help uncover trend of domestic violence and more than 50 unsolved rape cases

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — CBS 17 is investigating after records uncovered a trend between domestic violence and more than 50 cold case rapes.

We have spent months digging deeper into these crimes, the common link, and a new law now being proposed that would require more DNA be taken upon arrest, not a conviction.

Stacked boxes upon stacked boxes of untested rape kits. Each one contains DNA evidence of an unsolved rape. And each one tells the story of one woman’s nightmare.

“Whether it’s rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, physical violence, mental violence, financial violence. It’s all violence against women,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Cumberland County.

But what if state law could be changed making it easier to connect the DNA in these boxes with rape suspects? Defense attorney Billy Richardson, who has defended rapists says domestic violence is a warning sign.

“What we learned is that there’s a direct correlation between a rapist and a domestic violence charge,” said Richardson. “In other words, if someone has had a domestic violence charge in their past, there’s a very strong correlation between that and rape.”

Pretty strong accusations so we started digging into the numbers. Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit started in June 2015.

We looked at every arrest they’ve made over the last five years. The unit has solved 51 cold case rapes. Of those 51, there are 28 suspects.

Nearly half, 13 had prior domestic violence arrests and 2 others had a domestic violence report filed against them.

That pattern has Richardson, who is also a North Carolina state representative drafting legislation to require DNA samples from suspects arrested for domestic violence.

“What we want to do is get ahead of this curve is the legislation would do is allow people who have been charged with the crime of domestic violence, either misdemeanor or felony to be required to submit to a DNA sample which would be placed in CODIS,” Richardson said.

CODIS is a national database of DNA collected by law enforcement. Once DNA is put into the system it can be run against DNA in unsolved crimes.

Richardson contends if the law had already been in place it could have prevented several sexual assaults that Darold Wayne Bowden and Johnnie B. Green Jr. are now accused of.

Bowden is charged with six rapes, but he had a domestic violence charge after police say he committed his second rape.

Green is charged with 11 rapes, and he, too, was arrested for domestic violence after the second rape he’s accused of.

Had DNA evidence been collected after those domestic violence arrests, it could have identified them as rape suspects sooner, bringing justice to the victims and possibly preventing 13 other rapes.

“You’ve just explained why we need to change the law,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

Stein is in favor of this law. 30 states already have laws where DNA can be taken upon arrest and not just conviction.

North Carolina is one of them but domestic violence is not a crime that applies. Stein says more access to DNA can be the key to solving crimes before they escalate.

“One reason why we are having such success in solving cold cases when we test all of these old kits is the database that people can be matched against a much bigger than it’s been in the past,” Stein said.

CBS17’s investigation into the Ramsey Street Rapist allowed us to tell the story of two survivors Kobi Haschen and Kandice Castillo. Both women are actively fighting to get this law enacted. Not for them, but for others.

“How many other women are going through the same thing and their attacker has the same rap sheet? It’s very.. it makes me angry and it makes me mad,” Castillo said.

“Victims of these violent crimes have suffered for far too long. And they need to know that we are doing all we can to prevent this from happening,” Richardson said.

Richardson hopes to have the bill ready when the Legislative session opens on January 21st. We reached out to the ACLU about this legislation and they told us “Legislators looking to support survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence could consider expanding prevention programs and support services instead of expanding categories that allow for a person’s genetic blueprint to be subject to invasive searches.”

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