For the first time, Charlotte police detective Troy Armstrong can use DNA evidence to try solving 2000 old rapes and some 2,000 others dating as far back as 1980, says the Charlotte Observer. Last February, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they hoped to be among the first agencies in the country to create a cold-case rape unit. North Carolina is one of a handful of states with no statute of limitations on felonies.
Armstrong hopes to use volunteers to help him sort through the old cases — some available only on reels of microfilm — looking for patterns and rapes without suspects. Cases with physical evidence will get an even closer look. The 39-year-old veteran sexual-assault detective sees his new job much like his off-hours hobby as a sport angler. “It’s just fishing. If something doesn’t work, try something else,” Armstrong said. “Something’s going to bite eventually. With a rape or a homicide, as every second ticks by, you’re losing ground in a case The neat thing is after a while, that curve starts to go back up.” Armstrong drew up a screening process, flagging cases that might yield leads: a car description, or a piece of physical evidence that might reveal DNA with today’s innovations. The benefit of looking back is that patterns start to emerge that might not have been visible at the time. “You can look like a genius in these cases,” he said.