1994 Cold Case May Soon Be Resolved Through DNA Testing

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UPDATED: Tuesday May 6, 2014 10:07 AM

A rape case that went unsolved for two decades could finally be close to a resolution.

It's the latest case to be charged in an effort to close cases that long ago went cold.

Jerome Tatum is charged with kidnapping, rape, and robbery in a case from 1994.

10TV has learned his conviction in another crime is what led to his charges in this one.

Tatum is currently serving a life sentence on a murder charge from 1998.

And his murder conviction is what allowed police, all these years later, to connect him to that rape.

Tatum was convicted of murdering cab driver Mamadou Ndiath after the Ndiath drove to a southeast Columbus apartment complex thinking he was picking up a fare.

Tatum was sentenced to life in prison and has been behind bars since.

But a fresh look at old evidence put Tatum back on the radar of Columbus Police.

"We go to the warehouse and pull the whole years’ worth of cases. They're boxed up. And we sit down, open each one up and review them," said Detective Jason Sprague of the Columbus Police Sexual Assault Squad.

Sprague was one of the investigators assigned to examine unsolved rape cases last year, starting with cases from 1993.

"The statute of limitations right now is 20 years. And 1993 is the furthest we could go back," he said.

One of those cases was the rape of a young woman in a Winslow Drive apartment complex in July of 1994.

DNA was collected but couldn't be matched to a suspect at the time, and the case went cold.

Four years later, in the same complex, Mamadou Ndiath was murdered.

Jerome Tatum was convicted of his killing, and like all Ohio inmates, his DNA was entered into the national database.

"His DNA was extracted in 1998. Then we submitted the evidence here recently, it matched to the 1994 rape case,” said Sprague.

That allowed Sprague to call the victim, who now lives out of state, with some long overdue good news.

"She seemed appreciative and shocked and surprised that I was calling her 20 years later,” he said. "We want to help them get closure and put these guys behind bars for the crimes they did regardless of how long ago they happened."

Tatum is currently serving that life sentence at the Southern Ohio Correctional Center in Lucasville.

He's expected to be brought to Franklin County to be arraigned on these new charged in the next two weeks

This is the fourth case to be charged out of CPD's cold case initiative.

Last year two "John Doe" DNA profiles were indicted in rapes from 1993 and 1994.

And last month Dennis White was charged with the rapes of two women from 1995.

Indicting a DNA profile allows prosecutors to stop the clock on the statute of limitations until that profile can be matched to a suspect.

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