Despite 2 recent arrests, Durham police has backlog of 1,500 rape kits waiting to be tested

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The Durham police cold case sexual assault unit announced Tuesday arrests in two separate cases dating back to 2007 and 2015.

Two National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative project grants totaling more than $1.5 million helped Durham officers make the arrests, police said.

Carlos Dominguez-Aguiar, 27, faces charges of first-degree rape and first-degree burglary after police say he broke into a woman’s apartment on Seven Oaks Road and sexually assaulted her in 2015.

A DNA match was found last year for Dominguez-Aguiar. He is currently serving time in Texas for illegal re-entry and is scheduled to be released in August 2021. Upon his release, he’ll be served with the indictment and brought to North Carolina.

Isadore Sullivan Jr. 38, faces charges of second-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, and second-degree sexual offense in connection with a 2007 rape case in Durham.

Police say Sullivan forced a woman into a car at Creekside Landing Apartments on Willow Creek Circle. Sullivan dove her a short distance away and raped her, police said. But a DNA match came back last year, linking him to this rape and two other rapes in Florida, police said.

Sullivan was booked in the Durham County Jail last week, and he was released posting a $75,000 bond.

These two cases were part of Durham’s backlog of sexual assault cases that had gone cold. But DNA matches found in the Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS, breathed new life into these cases and led to the arrests.

In 2018, Durham Police had a backlog of 1,700 sexual assault kits that needed to be tested. The police department’s grants helped them start testing these kits three years ago.

Since then 270 kits have been tested, 73 CODIS matches have been found, and 17 cases have been cleared.

Officials with Durham police said Tuesday they still have 1,500 sexual assault kits, some dating as far back as 1988, that are still waiting to be sent off to the lab for testing.

“That’s 1,500 people that have not seen even that first step of accountability,” said Rachel Valentine, executive director of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. “Every person that submitted evidence through a rape kit deserves to get an answer, deserves to have it tested and deserves to have a response.”

Durham police said they cannot send all of the 1,500 kits for testing at once, simply because there is not enough space at the lab and it’s expensive.

CBS 17 obtained data on Tuesday that showed Raleigh police has a backlog log of about 200 sexual assault kits, Greensboro has about 30, and Fayetteville does not have a backlog.

Fayetteville police said in an email Tuesday that they had a backlog of 688 sexual assault kits in 2015, but a grant allowed them to send all of their kits off to a private lab for testing. They said they have not had a backlog since.

Lt. Stephen Vaughan said in a press conference that Durham police did receive a $518,000 grant in October that will allow them to hire a data analyst. The grant is also geared toward allowing them to conduct more forensic genealogy testing that helps them find matches.

“These cases may be old, but they are definitely not forgotten,” Vaughan said. “We have to do everything we can do to work on them.”

More information on the recent cold case arrests can be found below:

2007 cold case rape

Isadore Sullivan Jr., 38, of Durham was indicted last week on charges stemming from a 2007 rape case in Durham.

On Nov. 10, 2007, the victim was at Creekside Landing Apartments on Willow Creek Circle waiting for her boyfriend. She was unloading items from her car when a suspect approached her and forced her into the vehicle, police said.

The suspect drove the victim a short distance away and raped her, police said. He then drove her back to the apartments and ran away.

Twelve years later, the sex assault kit from the incident was submitted for testing. That testing developed a DNA profile that was then entered into the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory’s DNA index system.

In June 2020, that DNA profile matched two sexual assaults out of Florida – one in Feb. 2007 in Key West another in May 2007 in Fort Lauderdale.

In Sept. 2020, Bode Technology performed testing which helped lead investigators or a suspect.

On Feb. 22, Isadore Sullivan Jr. was identified as the suspect, police said. Durham police cold case investigators learned Sullivan had been arrested in 2018 in Durham on charges of attempted rape and kidnapping.

Evidence from the 2018 investigation was used to connect Sullivan to the Nov. 10, 2007 assault, police said.

Sullivan has been indicted on charges of second-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree sexual offense in connection with a 2007 rape case in Durham.

He was also arrested last Wednesday on those charges and released from jail after posting a $75,000 bond.

2015 cold case rape

Investigators have obtained indictments charging Carlos Dominguez-Aguiar, 27, in a May 31, 2015 rape, police said.

The victim said a masked man sexually assaulted her at knifepoint in her home.

In 2018, the sexual assault kit from the case was submitted for testing. That led to Durham investigators making a match in Nov. 2020.

Dominguez-Aguiar faces charges of first-degree rape and first-degree burglary.

Durham investigators learned Dominguez-Aguiar was arrested in early Oct. 2020 in Texas for illegal re-entry into the country and was in the custody of U.S. Marshals.

In Jan. 2021, Aguiar was sentenced to 10 months active time in Texas for illegal re-entry and is scheduled to be released in Aug. 2021.

At this time, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a hold on Aguiar.

Upon his release, he will be served with the indictment and brought to North Carolina.

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