Mobile Police made an arrest in a 20-year-old rape case on Wednesday thanks to newer technology that wasn’t available in 1994 when the incident was first reported.
At the time, Mobile Police responded to a sexual assault involving a female victim under the age of 18, and though detectives say they conducted a diligent and thorough investigation, no arrests were ever made in the case. That is, until now.
Following up on the cold case investigation, MPD revisited case files and evidence collected in an effort to improve solvability factors utilizing more sophisticated technology available to the department.As a result of that second examination last year, investigators found physical evidence collected from the original crime scene that yielded a positive match linking a suspect to the crime. At the time, Mobile police immediately began searching for 51-year-old Ralph Edward Bartlett and were finally able to take him into custody in the Mobile area without incident earlier this week.
On April 22, Bartlett was arrested and charged with first degree rape and sodomy in relation to the December 1994 event. He is currently in police custody at the Mobile County Metro Jail.
On Tuesday, the Mobile City Council accepted a $2 million grant on behalf of the MPD to cover the cost of overtime. Those extra funds will allow the continued testing of “cold” rape kits, which MPD Chief James Barber said are classified as rape kits that are more than a year old.
Though this arrest wasn’t a result of those grant funds, Mobile police are hopeful the additional funding for rape kit testing will pave the way for future arrests in similar cold cases.