KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Prosecutors say that DNA technology has led to charges in a 20-year-old Jackson County rape case – even though the main witness in the case has since died.
Keith Harris, 48, has been charged with two counts of rape in connection to the 1992 case, which began at a Kansas City, Kan., bar. Two teenagers told police that a man took them from a bar to a vacant lot in a Kansas City, Mo., industrial area where they were raped at knife point in his tractor trailer.
“One of the girls got away and actually ran to my neighbor’s house, Byron Curtis, who actually helped her,” said Johannah DeSchepper, a woman who grew up near the crime scene. DeSchepper said the man who helped contact police in the early morning hours of April 1992 has since died.
“She picked the right house because he was retired and he was always willing to help anyone who would be in need,” said DeSchepper.
But thanks to DNA technology, prosecutors say that this case is now very much alive.
“I think both of these women do feel a sense of relief that this day has finally come for them,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker. “We did not have the COTIS databank that we have today. So, you know today its a much broader system. Its easier to get a match then it was certainly in the early 90′.”
Authorities say that they were able to match Harris to the 1992 rapes because his DNA was already in a national database because of a 1995 rape conviction in New York.