HPD: DNA connects inmate to several sexual assaults in Sunnyside area

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by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 11:27 PM

HOUSTON -- Houston Police say they have found a serial rapist who is already behind bars.

Herman Ray Whitfield, 43, is in prison on a kidnapping case until 2016, but recent testing of backlogged HPD rape kits has linked him to several rapes.

Whitfield has been charged with four aggravated assaults since 1992, but police said he is a match to several more rape victims. Authorities haven’t been able to locate those other victims because it’s been so many years.

The victims were dragged to secluded areas near school campuses in the Sunnyside area. HPD Sgt. Laurie White with Juvenile Sex Crimes said, “

“He would watch girls going to and from school, a lot of ‘em (attacks) happened before and after school,” said HPD Sgt. Laurie White with Juvenile Sex Crimes.

The youngest victim was 12 and the oldest was 21.

The oldest case was in 1992. HPD said Whitfield didn’t have to give a DNA sample for his kidnapping conviction back then so he was not in the early CODIS or Combined DNA Index System.

That combined with HPD’s infamous lab troubles with a backlog of more than 6,000 untested rape kits, helped to hide a serial rapist.

Last year independent labs began testing those kits and matches showed up with Whitfield.

“We have been able to get some more cases linked together as a result of the untested kits,” said HPD Sgt. John Coburn. “We’re basically getting the CODIS hits as they came in and that’s what linked this individual (Whitfield) to so many cases.”

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