Crime & Courts

‘Serial rapist’ arrested after police match DNA in Charlotte cold cases from 1981

A 64-year-old Georgia man described by police as a “serial rapist” was arrested after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police cold case unit matched his DNA in two Charlotte rape cases from 1981, CMPD Sgt. Darrell Price at a news conference on Friday.

Suspect Johnny Ealey didn’t know the women whose homes he’s suspected of breaking into as they slept, Price said at the news conference at CMPD headquarters. Ealey is suspected of sexually assaulting the women at knifepoint, Price said.

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Ealey served time in a Georgia prison for sexual assault and also is a suspect in at least three more Charlotte cold case rapes, Price said.

“He is definitely a predatory sex offender,” Price said. “I would even go so far as to say he is a serial rapist.”

The Charlotte victims in the two cases in which he was recently indicted lived in the Beatties Ford Road area, according to Price. The attacks occurred when Ealey was visiting his father, he said.

Evidence collected in the two cases was “originally analyzed in 1981, but underwent additional testing in both 2014 and 2016,” police said in the release. “As a result of this testing, Ealey was identified as a suspect.”

With help from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, police obtained indictments charging Ealey with first- and second-degree rape and two counts of burglary, according to a CMPD news release on Friday.

Ealey had been released from a Georgia prison on a sexual assault conviction by the time CMPD officers obtained the recent indictments, Price said.

He was arrested on the Charlotte charges on Tuesday by his parole officer in Georgia, according to the CMPD release. He is in a Georgia jail awaiting extradition, according to Price.

The indictments involve rapes on May 6, 1981, and June 26, 1981, police said in the release. Each victim was assaulted at knifepoint —unusual because most rapists use no weapon at all, Price said.

The use of a knife “is a factor we can go back and look at” with other unsolved cold case rape cases, Price told reporters.

“We’re diligently investigating other (similar) crimes,” Price said. “What we have to do is go back and take a hard look at 1981.”

DNA technology didn’t exist in 1981, according to the sergeant. “It was strictly serology, blood typing,” he said. Serology is the examination of blood serum.

Police urge anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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