DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit has filed charges against nearly a dozen people who are connected to 15 sexual assault cases that date back more than 35 years, police announced Tuesday.
The unit, which is funded through a $1 million grant by the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, has filed charges against 11 people who are connected to cases that date back as far as 1984, police said.
Some of those 11 arrested were able to be identified as serial sexual assault offenders.
“I am especially proud of our Cold Case Unit who continues to demonstrate passionate work both personally and professionally. Our Cold Case Unit remains committed to the victims in each and every one of these cases,” said Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis in a release. “They work tirelessly to make sure that we offer a victim-centered, trauma-informed investigation where the victim decides how they want to proceed with their case in pursuit of justice. Their dedication and concern for the victims in these cases is unwavering.”
The SAKI grant is a three-year grant and was awarded to the Department last fall by the U.S. Department of Justice Programs and through the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The grant provides the Department with additional resources that can be used to investigate cold case sexual assaults.
The grant also provides police with resources to test backlogged sexual assault kits. The SAKI grant is also used to fund training, travel, and equipment, plus provide assistance for the Durham Crisis Response Center.
Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry said the SAKI grant and the collaboration between police, her office, and the DCRC means that “survivors of sexual assault and their cases will be treated with the priority and care they deserve.”
Deberry continued, saying, “My office is fully committed to working with our partners to keep reviewing these years-old cases, seek accountability, and support survivors in every way we can.”
The Durham Police Department’s sexual assault kit project that was started in 2018 was also funded in part by the SAKI grant. The project was started as a way to inventory and submit for testing previously untested sex assault kits.
According to police, there were 456 submission forms to be tested through June of this year. During testing, “102 cases were completed with reports and uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and investigators received 60 CODIS hit notifications.”
All 11 charged were identified through CODIS DNA testing, police said.
“Today’s news underscores North Carolina’s commitment to getting justice for survivors of sexual assault,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “Durham is making great strides toward testing the kits in its custody – and that’s resulting in arrests.”
Durham police released the names of seven people who they considered to be “notable arrests.”
They are as follows:
- Michael Brooks, Jr., 47. He is charged in connection with three cases. More charges are pending.
- Michael Anthony McNeal, 60, was arrested on Sept. 14 and charged with cases from 1996, 1998, and 2003.
- Vincent Sowell, 27, was indicted on Sept. 8 in connection with a 2007 rape case. Sowell is already serving time in Alamance County for a 2018 murder in Burlington, police said.
- Antwoine Lloyd, 60, was indicted on Sept. 8 in connection with a 2005 rape. He was arrested Sept. 10 and released without bond.
- James Randall Harris Jr., 45, was indicted on Sept. 8 for a 2010 kidnapping and rape case.
- Robert Burnette, 58, was indicted Sept. 8 on a 1984 rape charge. He was arrested on Oct. 7 and released after posting a $75,000 bond.
- Jonathan Partridge, 36, was indicted on Sept. 8 for rape and sexual offense charges in a 2013 case. He was arrested Oct. 5 and released after posting a $50,000 bond.