A local law enforcement initiative to test a large backlog of sexual assault kits has led to an arrest in a 1998 rape and kidnapping cold case.
Police say Roderick Williams, 54, was indicted on charges of first-degree rape and kidnapping earlier this month in connection to a rape that occurred in 1998 after DNA evidence from the victim’s sexual assault kit (SAK) matched his.
Following the indictment, Williams was transferred from Baldwin County Jail to Mobile County Metro Jail, where he’s being held on a $200,000 bond in reference to those 20-year-old charges.
Williams is scheduled to appear in court on May 10 for a status hearing, where a trial date for his case is expected to be set by the court. District Attorney Ashley Rich has said her office is committed to pursuing justice for Williams’ victim.Court records indicate Williams has faced a number charges in Mobile County both before and after the alleged rape occurred in 1998.
Police have not released any details about the victim, but say the incident occurred in the area of Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue and Live Oak Street in October 1998.
The arrest is the fourth the Mobile Police Department has made after testing a cold case sexual assault kids from its backlog locally, and it’s the first arrest tied to submissions directly related to the Promise Initiative — a joint effort with the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, the Rape Crisis Center, and the Alabama Department of Forensic Science to revisit and test older SAKs with current DNA technology.
In 2015, the MPD received a $828,230 grant to test its previously unsubmitted SAKs. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded the grant to MPD as part of a $110-million-plus national effort to support multiple jurisdictions in addressing backlogs of dated sexual assault kids.
During a victim’s medical forensic examination after a sexual assault, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or other medical professionals gather DNA evidence for a sexual assault kit, which may include a suspect’s blood, saliva and/or semen taken from the victim’s body.
That evidence is gathered at a hospital or at a rape crisis center before it’s submitted for forensic testing to identify possible perpetrators. However, limited by technology and a lack of suspects to test against, police have seen backlogs of those kits accumulate over the years.
Through programs like the Promise Initiative, local authorities are looking to address these issues by testing unsubmitted SAKs, investigating and prosecuting these cases and supporting victims of assault when, or if, a suspect is identified.
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