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Tulsa police make arrest in 2003 rape case using DNA

Posted at 9:26 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 09:49:22-05

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa police arrested 75-year-old Alfred Wilson for first-degree rape in connection with a 2003 sexual assault.

Authorities said Wilson got paroled from a Virginia prison on January 3, 2003, after being convicted of a separate rape charge. The assault he is accused of took place in Tulsa 16 days later, on January 19.

TPD arrested Wilson in 2021 after connecting him to DNA from a 2003 sexual assault kit.

“It’s hard to imagine, you know, a victim waiting 18 years for justice,” said Lt. Darin Ehrenrich with the Special Victims Unit of the Tulsa Police Department.

TPD said this is the first arrest the department made in a sexual assault cold case since a 2018 federal grant began paying for the process and testing sexual assault kits. At the time, TPD had a backlog of about 3,050 kits dating back to the late '90s. Since the grant, it’s tested 453 of them.

Ehrenrich said the approach to sexual assault investigations changed a lot over the past five years and led to important discoveries.

“They’re seeing repeat offenders. They’re linking cases to other cases," he said. "They’re seeing trends in other states. They’re linking cases across the nation.”

Seeking justice for sexual assault victims isn’t easy. Lori Gonzalez, a sexual assault program manager with Domestic Violence Intervention Services in Tulsa, said less than five percent of sexual violence perpetrators ever do any time.

“Justice is really important, and even more than that, somebody who’s been victimized really wants to know they’re safe," Gonzalez said. "And safety is translated by people going to prison.”

TPD said while it’s matched DNA for other kits, many victims don’t want to come forward and relive their trauma. Gonzalez agreed, saying there’s a fear of victim-blaming.

“I hear a lot of, ‘What was she wearing? What did she do? Was she drinking?’" Gonzalez said. "You know, we have a lot of excuses and ways we blame people who have been victimized, but you don’t hear people say, ‘Well, why did he think he had the right to do that?'”

Lt. Ehrenrich said it’s vital to continue going through these cases and get offenders off the streets.

“It’s extremely important to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to bring justice to every victim that we can," he said.

TPD said the grant to fund testing these kits ends in September, but it plans on reapplying for it to continue solving these cases.

If you’re a victim of sexual assault, there is help. You can call Domestic Violence Intervention Services at 918-743-5763 or click here. The program also has a texting hotline. You can also text the word “safe” to 207-777 between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.

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