Testing of old North Carolina rape kits leads to arrest
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man identified by police as a registered sex offender now faces charges of raping two teenagers more than 20 years ago, based on evidence obtained through DNA testing of old sexual assault kits.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said at a news conference Wednesday that Warren Lee Caldwell, 56, was arrested March 1 and jailed in connection with the rape of an 18-year-old in 1990 and of a 17-year-old in 1994.
The department received two grants to pay for the testing of old sexual assault kits, said Sgt. Darrell Price, head of the sexual assault cold case unit. The department submitted 885 cases to a lab through one grant and 300 to another lab through a second grant, he said.
Starting about two years ago, the city and county have their own lab that tests all new sexual assault kits, Price said.
Sometimes DNA evidence will implicate a person who’s already in prison; such cases have less urgency, Price said at the police department’s weekly briefing. But “anybody who’s walking, talking and committing crimes, we want to get them off the street as quickly as possible,” he said.
Caldwell was behind bars Wednesday, charged with two counts of second-degree rape and one count of first-degree kidnapping. It wasn’t clear if he has an attorney.
Caldwell is charged with an 18-year-old woman who said she was sexually assaulted and robbed by a man who then ran away. He’s also charged with raping a 17-year-old who said a man pulled her into his vehicle while she was waiting at a bus stop. She said the man drove her to another location and sexually assaulted her before releasing her.
“Both are extremely positive and want to move forward with prosecution in these cases,” Price said.
Police said Caldwell is a registered sex offender who was convicted in 2002 in a 1995 case — which would have occurred after the second of the two rapes in which he’s now charged — involving indecent liberties with a child.
He has been arrested more than 50 times for various charges, they said.
The arrest was announced the week after state Attorney General Josh Stein said an audit of law enforcement agencies across the state showed North Carolina has more than 15,000 untested rape kits. That audit showed Charlotte-Mecklenburg with 499 untested rape kits.
Follow Martha Waggoner at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc