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TOLEDO COLD CASE

DNA of rape victim’s child lands suspect

Members of the Toledo Police Cold Case Sexual Assault Task Force say they could find no new evidence to solve a 2000 stranger rape until the victim offered one possibility: her son born from the rape.

On Friday, a Lucas County grand jury indicted Harland Hersey, 33, of Toledo on one count of rape for an April 9, 2000, attack on a teenage girl.

Harland-Hershey

Hersey

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Charles McDonald, an assistant county prosecutor assigned to the task force, said the indictment came after the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducted a reverse paternity test on the victim’s son — a test that identified his biological father through DNA.

“It’s a first for our unit,” he said of the reverse paternity test.

“Due to the creative and exhaustive techniques used by the investigating officers, a DNA profile was developed sufficient to identify a suspect,” Mr. McDonald said.

The 16-year-old victim told police at the time that she and her younger brother had walked to the store and were returning home on Waverly Avenue near Avondale Avenue about 2 p.m. when three young men on a porch called them up and coerced them inside.

Mr. McDonald said that while one of the men allegedly kept the victim’s brother downstairs, the other two men forced the victim upstairs where she was raped. 

After she and her brother were able to flee, they ran home where she called police. The young woman was taken to the hospital where a rape kit was done.

Still, no suspects were ever identified or arrests made. 

“Nothing ever came of the original investigation,” Mr. McDonald said.

An arrest warrant for Mr. Hersey would be issued, police said Friday.

Toledo police Detective Vince Mauro, another member of the task force, said an agent from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation worked the case and ultimately got a hit from the suspect’s DNA on the FBI’s nationwide database known as the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS.

For the past few years, the task force has been re-examining some 1,700 unsolved rape cases that date back two decades.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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