Skip to comments.Science Catches Up With 1984 Rape
Posted on 04/29/2013 4:17:10 PM PDT by nickcarraway
RICHARD WALKER, T&D Staff Writer(0) Comments It began with a request for a novel. It became a nightmare that would turn into a 29-year mystery.
The woman was working as a clerk in a Summerville bookstore. A 36-year-old married mother of two, she was alone in the shop on the afternoon of Oct. 25, 1984 when a man entered the store. He wanted to know where the mystery section was located.
From that moment, the nightmare began.
During a three and a half day trial that ended Thursday, the woman sat in the same St. George courtroom as the man who whispered taunts in her ear while he brutally raped her.
Then came her turn to take the stand. For 30 minutes she endured both the prosecutions and defense attorneys humiliating questions. She testified about the man who posed as a customer and then grabbed money from the register. She told how he forced her to a back room at gunpoint where he raped her repeatedly.
Before her attacker fled, he demanded her wedding ring.
Along with his attorneys, a 47-year-old man sat across the room watching intently as the woman took the court and jury back 29 years, back to that afternoon in 1984, a day she has relived each day since.
For months police had little go on. No camera footage, no witnesses. They had a general description of the attacker: a black male, medium build, young. That was it.
DNA profiling had been discovered in England just six weeks before the womans attack. But it wasnt bulletproof and certainly wouldnt stand up in court. But it was getting there.
It would be a couple of years before it would be perfected. It withstood the standards of court in England in 1986. The first case in the United States was in 1987 when a Florida man was convicted of rape based on DNA.
Investigators in South Carolina kept tabs on the Florida trial. In Dorchester County, the womans clothing from the day of the rape was sent back to the State Law Enforcement Division to see if DNA testing could be run on it.
SLED agent Ken Bogan was on duty when the sealed evidence arrived. Bogan testified this week that in 1988 South Carolinas DNA analysis was in its infancy. The state simply did not have the technology yet to create a DNA profile.
Bogan told the jury he knew even then it was only a matter of time. He did not attempt any process, choosing instead to keep the evidence intact for a future time. The clothing and forensic evidence was sent back to the Dorchester County Sheriffs Office where it would wait undisturbed in an evidence locker for another 21 years.
In 2009, Sheriff L.C. Knight agreed with his evidence custodian, Lt. Earl Asbell, that several old cases involving DNA should be looked at again. Several were examined for their potential for prosecution. Several were chosen, including the rape case.
The evidence was again sent to SLED. By coincidence, it arrived back in the hands of Bogan, now an expert DNA analyst, who made the decision more than two decades ago to preserve the evidence for the time when it could be done properly.
Hes able to extract DNA from the undergarments of the victim, prosecutor Glenn Justis said.
Two DNA profiles were discovered, one belonging to a woman who was later identified through the testing to be the victim. The other is a male, who remained faceless to authorities for more than two decades.
That male DNA profile was put through the national CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System.
And guess what? Justis said.
A hit was made in the system. After years of being classified as a cold case, police had a name.
Herbert Leroy Holmes.
A Berkeley County native, Holmes wasnt hard to find. He was located at Leiber Correctional Institution serving a life sentence. In 1989 he was found guilty of crawling through the window of a 71-year-old grandmother and her 18-year-old granddaughter. He raped them both before fleeing.
Although sentenced to life in prison, Holmes was looking at about 22 years under the law as it existed before state lawmakers passed truth in sentencing in 1996.
With his release pending, the 1984 rape case became urgent. For the first time, authorities had a suspect. But he was coming up for parole and could vanish.
In February 2011, Holmes was served with warrants in the 1984 case accusing him of kidnapping and raping the woman in the back of the bookstore.
During the course of the trial, defense attorney Mitch Farley focused on the age of the evidence and the possibility for contamination or even the misplacement of key pieces.
It was up to the prosecution to produce the witnesses, some of whom are now dead. Some just couldnt be located. The victim had moved out of the state. But the key people surrounding the case 29 years ago were found.
Bogan testified the DNA profile that pointed to Holmes would take 350 billion people before coming back to another match.
A jury spent about an hour discussing the case before declaring Holmes guilty Thursday.
Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein sentenced Holmes to the maximum penalty under pre-1996 law: life in prison for kidnapping and 30 years for rape. That means hell be eligible for parole again in about 22 years when hes 69.
Justis said so many things had to go right for the case to have been successful. The witnesses, the chance of sending off the only evidence samples for comparison, the very decision to send those samples any one of which could have changed the results.
The conviction of this rapist is due to the ceaseless tenacity of the Dorchester County Sheriffs Department, Ken Bogan and SLED, he said. Mr. Holmes has been avoiding responsibility but he couldnt outrun science.
Now 65 and with grandchildren, the victim was visibly shaken at the beginning of the trial. But as the week went on, she seemed to gain closure.
Justice may sleep but it never dies, the prosecutor said in his closing argument. The victims nightmares and the 29-year-old mystery ends today.
Although there are no pictures here, I have a good idea as to the physical identity of the rapist.
His middle name is Leroy.
What is that supposed to mean?
What does he mean by that?
Thanks for posting. DNA testing not only frees the innocent - it nails the guilty.
They had that back then.
Ah okay, that’s much easier to understand. Thank you.
Find the following phrase in the article:
“For months police had little go on. No camera footage, no witnesses. They had a general description of the attacker: a...”
Then look at the next word.
I'll leave any further comment to poster #2 to you, but ping me if you need some stats re inter-racial rape.
I don’t mean anything personal about it, nor do I mean to make it offensive.
However, the odds the name Leroy belonging to a black man is higher than white.
I scanned the article and missed that phrase.
But I didn’t miss the name.
If you read the article it states he was identified as Black male at the time the rape happened.
I’m currently writing a research paper for college on DNA evidence. Sorry, no two people share the same DNA except for identical twins. 350 billion people before coming back to another match? me thinks this guy speaks out his arse!
Yeah, the name is kind of a giveaway.
At least it was a little more ambiguous than Da’quantrious.
Another way to put it is: the entire population of the earth would have to be replaced about 45 times before the same DNA sequence arose I.e. he’s the perp.
Zero's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to require lenders of car loans to use your technique to ensure we have another financial crisis too good to waste.
To quote from the above report,
“They had a general description of the attacker: a black male, medium build, young, .....”
It's because they're not comparing the whole genome, only enough to ensure an extremely low likelihood of a false positive.
And if it were me, I would be waiting somewhere.
What does he mean by that?
This article is just so poorly written....
His is it I know 5 Larry’s, two of whom are related to me.
Blue eyed devils they are....
I interpreted this as having a suspect already. Why all the fuss trying to identify and track him down again? Or does this mean the perp stood trial in the same courtroom on a totally separate occasion?
Ach. I think I get it, but the author’s use of tense does not make it easy. “The past present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.”
Perhaps you can comment on the following scenario, read a few years ago in a work of fiction.
A DNA sample could not be obtained from a slippery criminal who was a master at leaving false trails, falsely accusing other of his crimes anonymously, but finally busted by the simple expedient of being able to DNA profile a cooperating very close relative (e.g. parent, sibling, cousin, uncle, etc).
Is this actually possible? If nothing else, it would certainly reduce the pool of suspects dramatically.
“Finally busted by the simple expedient of being able to DNA profile a cooperating very close relative (e.g. parent, sibling, cousin, uncle, etc).”
You can test the “Mitochondrial” DNA...DNA from the mother’s side of the family, but, I would think you would still need a sample from the defendents DNA first.
No statute of limitations?
I don’t like SoL’s, for the record