DNA leads to arrest in 1988 assault case
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DNA evidence stored in the Allegheny County crime lab helped a Pittsburgh police sex assault detective solve a decades-old rape case.
Stevey Darnell Kiser, 56, of San Diego was being held in the Allegheny County Jail on Thursday, charged with raping a woman at knife point in her Shadyside apartment building on Aug. 23, 1988.
The woman told police at the time that she was walking home from a friend's house and entering her apartment when a man hit her on the head, knocking her to the ground. The man raped her as she screamed and fought against him; she stopped when he threatened to kill her, Detective Aprill-Noelle Campbell wrote in a criminal complaint filed against Kiser. A fellow apartment-dweller heard her cries and saw a man holding a knife. The assailant darted across Fifth Avenue, down College Avenue and out of sight.
The woman was taken to UPMC Shadyside, where a rape kit was used to collect evidence, which later was processed by criminologists at the county lab.
Twenty-three years passed before the woman, who had been researching her case, contacted Detective Campbell. She told the detective she had been reading about "East End Rapist" Keith Wood, who was responsible for a series of brazen sexual assaults on women in the East End in 2002, and she wondered if DNA evidence gathered from her case had ever been compared to Mr. Wood's.
Detective Campbell wrote that she contacted Thomas Meyers, a scientist with the Allegheny County medical examiner's office, who told her that the woman's evidence had not been entered into the nationwide DNA database known as CODIS, or Combined DNA Index System, which catalogs the DNA of convicted felons. The medical examiner's office began performing DNA tests in 1995 and thus had not analyzed the evidence, Mr. Meyers told the detective, according to the criminal complaint.
The county lab has specimens from hundreds of unsolved cases dating to 1982. The CODIS system routinely checks DNA from unsolved cases against that of known criminals with the goal of finding a match, and police have made a push in recent years to add more cases, including missing persons and unidentified remains, to the database.
Detective Campbell received notice of a match in the rape case in April. Kiser lives in San Diego, where he was arrested in 2009 for driving a school bus with a loaded gun, a spokesman with the San Diego County district attorney's office said. Police charged him with a pair of felony firearms offenses, to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation. California law requires officers to collect DNA samples from all adults arrested for felonies, so Kiser's sample was added to the database.
He was arrested in San Diego on June 21, the district attorney's spokesman said. District Judge Anthony Ceoffe set his bond at $100,000 straight, court records show. Charges against him include rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, assault, terroristic threats and unlawful restraint. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday.
First Published July 13, 2012 12:00 am