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Previously untested rape kits help convict a serial rapist



48-year-old Ronald Wheeler, who was already in jail for 4 prior rapes, was sentenced 20 extra years for 2 extra rapes.

CLEVELAND — A serial rapist who focused Cleveland space ladies will doubtless die behind bars after two rape kits had been lastly examined after greater than a decade.

48-year-old Ronald Wheeler, who was already in jail for 4 prior rapes, was sentenced to 20 extra years this week.

3News Investigates spoke with two survivors, grateful for the delayed justice.

Survivors’ tales

As she walked down the road on a chilly December day in 2006, she seen a person coming towards her.

“When he bought nearer to me, he pulled out a gun,” the Cleveland lady stated, reliving one of many scariest days of her life (we’ve withheld her identify at her request).

She was 18 on the time. He led her to a close-by deserted constructing within the Fairfax neighborhood on the town’s east facet.

“He took me in there and he raped me,” the girl remembered. “I used to be scared. I believed I used to be going to die that day.”

Three months later – and only one mile away – one other lady endured a strikingly comparable encounter.

“He stood over me and put a pistol – I by no means did see it however I felt one thing arduous – and stated, ‘If you happen to do not cooperate, I will hurt you and your baby,” a second Cleveland lady stated (we’re additionally not revealing her identify).

She was 23 years outdated, sitting at a bus cease together with her 5-month-old toddler when the person approached her. He pressured her to a vacant space by close by practice tracks and sexually assaulted her a number of tomes.

“I used to be very, very terrified,” she instructed 3News.

15 years later, each victims’ bodily accidents have healed, however their emotional scars nonetheless run deep.

Rape package backlog

After their assaults, each ladies went to close by hospitals, the place sexual assault exams – generally known as rape kits – had been carried out.

These rape kits had been then turned over to Cleveland police, the place they sat on cabinets, untested – including to a backlog of practically 14,000 kits throughout the state that had been collected between 1993 and 2010.

As 3News Investigates has reported, then-Lawyer Normal Mike DeWine who requested businesses to start sending these untested kits to Ohio’s crime labs in Might of 2011. By 2018, the state had lastly cleared the backlog.

Transferring ahead

“I by no means thought I might get justice for it,” one of many ladies admitted. “I by no means thought I used to be get justice for it, however I did.”

In the meantime, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Workplace established its personal sexual assault package activity pressure in 2013 to look into leads that resulted from the beforehand untested kits. The duty pressure has accomplished 7,026 investigations which have ends in 830 indictments.

Final 12 months, DNA matches linked the 2 Cleveland assaults to serial rapist Ronald Wheeler, who had terrorized ladies within the 1990s and 2000s on the east facet of Cleveland.

“These two kits linked to him through DNA,” Mary Preston from the prosecutor’s workplace stated. “They had been unsolved till the duty pressure solved these instances via the usage of DNA.”

Wheeler–who has now been convicted of raping six women–is not eligible for launch till 2075, that means he’ll doubtless die behind his bars.

“There’s one much less Ronald Wheeler on the market at present as a result of ladies got here ahead,” one of many survivor’s of his crimes stated. “If extra ladies got here ahead, there can be loads much less Ronald Wheelers on the market.”

State legislation now requires police departments to ship rape kits to crime labs inside 30 days of an assault, so a rape package backlog by no means occurs once more.



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