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24 years after a teen was raped near uptown Charlotte, DNA leads to an arrest

What happens in a rape kit exam?

A sexual assault evidence kit contains forensic evidence gathered from a victim's body during an intrusive, hours-long examination. Testing kits can find DNA evidence used to identify rapists, boost prosecutions or exonerate the falsely accused.
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A sexual assault evidence kit contains forensic evidence gathered from a victim's body during an intrusive, hours-long examination. Testing kits can find DNA evidence used to identify rapists, boost prosecutions or exonerate the falsely accused.

Newly tested DNA evidence led to an arrest of a suspect 24 years after a 16-year-old reported being raped near present-day Bank of America Stadium, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Friday.

Police said the teen was raped and robbed while walking toward a pay phone on nearby Dunbar Street to call her mother on Nov. 1, 1995, according to a police news release.

A sexual assault kit was completed at Carolinas Medical Center, where the victim was treated, according to the release. Police said they tested the kit in 1996.

L Bertha.jpg
Mecklenburg County jail

But the department was able to complete more testing on the kit in 2018, as part of a federal grant.

The DNA evidence identified 59-year-old L.J. Bertha of Charlotte as the suspect, police said Friday.

Police arrested Bertha without incident on Wednesday, according to the CMPD release. He was interviewed at police headquarters, taken to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and charged with second-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and common law robbery.

The home of the NFL Carolina Panthers was still months from opening when police said a stranger approached the victim and offered to show her to the pay phone, police said in the release.

“When they arrived to the 900 block of Dunbar Street, the suspect grabbed the victim’s arm, pulled her through some bushes and sexually assaulted her,” according to the CMPD release.

Dunbar Street is off South Mint Street across Interstate 277 from the stadium. The stadium opened in summer 1996.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein announced a $10 million plan Tuesday to eliminate the backlog of more than 10,000 untested rape kits statewide, hoping to close decades of unsolved sexual assault cases.

Caroline Walker, NC Senate candidate jumps in using viral hashtag #WhyIDidntReport and talks about the nightmare of getting a rape kit exam.

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