Rape suspect ID’ed with the help of a little DNA

PHILADELPHIA. A DNA policy that all felons be swabbed for their genetic imprint put in place a few years ago has paid off big time, according to police, as a man serving time for parole violations for burglary and drug-dealing has now been charged with two unsolved rapes.

Police have allegedly linked Rodney Pray, 29, to two rapes more than a decade ago thanks to a DNA match. It is one of several cold cases police have closed recently using technology that allows DNA taken before 2000 to be re-entered under a more uniform system, authorities said.

“This is a continuous process,” Capt. John Darby of the Special Victims Unit said, adding that he expects more cases to be closed based on the technology. “The message is to offenders that they should be fearful. We are committed to bringing every instrument to the table to identify them.”

Rodney Pray, 29, is charged with two counts of rape, aggravated assault and related charges. The first reported incident took place in April 1997 when a 38-year-old woman was allegedly raped and robbed at knifepoint near 18th and Tioga. The second occurred in January 1998 when a 22-year-old woman reported being raped at knifepoint on the 1700 block of West Cambria Street.

Police first got a DNA match linking Pray to the two cases in January before taking another sample in March, which confirmed the connection. Officers picked up Pray from Rockview State Correctional Institution in State College on Monday and charged him with the crimes.

Pray has served time for burglary and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

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