Columbus Man Charged In Two Cold Case Rapes
Police call it an arrest two decades in the making.
Dennis White, 51, is charged with two counts of rape.
His arrest is a milestone for Columbus Police Sex Crimes Detectives, who have launched a cold case initiative to take on cases that have sat unresolved for decades.
Dennis White has a rap sheet stretching back more than 30 years, including convictions on attempted rape and burglary.
But police say his most serious crimes, he has never paid for: the rapes of two women in 1995.
“The suspect brought both victims to this area - the Scottwood and Zetler road area- and that's where he affected the sexual assaults," said Columbus Police Sergeant Terry McConnell.
He says White's arrest is the first to come from a Sexual Assault Cold Case initiative started last year.
"The whole objective of this was to go through the 1993 cases that the statute of limitations were about to expire. We wanted to prevent that from happening."
McConnell and two of his detectives have been reviewing the cold cases as their current caseload permits.
Their efforts have already resulted in indictments against multiple "John Does" in cases where a DNA profile has been identified, but the suspect it belongs to has not.
Those indictments have allowed investigators to stop the statute of limitations clock.
"Right now, 20 years is the statute for rape,” said McConnell. “So when the offense is known, that's when the statute starts running. Once we develop a suspect and indict that person, that's when the statute stops."
As they moved from the 1993 and 1994 cases into 1995, they noticed similarities between two rapes, committed a month apart in the same area of Southeast Columbus.
They say old evidence plus new technology produced a match: Dennis White.
For victims who thought they were forgotten and suspects who thought they were home free, McConnell has a message.
"Our goal is to make sure they get answers and justice for what's happened to them. And for the suspects, look out. We're going to keep looking for you."
McConnell says a big part of this effort has been support from the Attorney General Mike DeWine's office in working through a backlog of untested rape kits.
Dennis White, meanwhile, is at the Franklin County jail.
He's set to make his first court appearance Saturday morning.
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