EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – An investigation into an Edmond rape case from 1989 might finally be solved, thanks to the results of a decades old rape kit and a match to a suspect in California.
A recently filed affidavit recounts the case from October 3, 1989, when Edmond Police responded to reports of a sexual assault.
The victim told investigators she was hitchhiking along I-35 when she was picked up by a man and raped in a section of Edmond.
Although a rape kit was completed following the assault, it went untested for years.
A Sexual Assault Kit Initiative was established in 2017 by former Governor Mary Fallin to address a statewide backlog of untested kits; the program’s efforts were reaffirmed by Governor Stitt in 2021.
Court documents also indicate the case was “deactivated” by police due to a lack of leads.
Without leads, detectives couldn’t crack the case.
After the kit was finally sent to a lab in Virginia for testing in 2021, the results finally identified the suspect as 66-year-old Frank Haynes III.
Haynes had already been incarcerated in California and his DNA matched a profile already on file for the state of California.
While many states have statutes of limitations on rape or sexual assault charges, ranging from three to 30 years, court documents revealed leaving the state is actually what stopped the statute of limitations from expiring for this case in Oklahoma, and allowed the state to move forward with plans to prosecute the man.
“For most crimes, the statute of limitations is three years. For rape, it is 12 years,” said legal expert Ed Blau Monday in an interview with KFOR.
Blau also confirmed that because the man moved to California, that stopped the statute from expiring.
“Since the suspect moved out of state and has been out of state for a significant period of time, that [strikes down] the statute of limitations, thereby allowing the state of Oklahoma to prosecute him,” he added.
In an interview Monday with the station, community advocate Hillary Burkholder, CEO at Palomar – Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center – said the prevalence for sex assault in Oklahoma is higher than the national average.
“The national average is about 17 or 18% of women nationally [who] will experience rape in their lifetimes. And for Oklahoma, we have about 35 to 45% more than the national average reporting to law enforcement. We know that there are many that go unreported as well ,” she said.
Palomar partners with other community agencies to provide “wraparound services” to victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, stalking, elder abuse, and human trafficking.
Burkholder said in addition to practical services, the organization offers vital support.
“I think it’s very important for survivors to have that sense of community,” said Burkholder.
Earlier this year, reporting from the Tulsa World reported just under 3,000 untested rape kits across the state.
“There are still actionable steps and important connections that can be made while waiting on the legal system,” Burkholder said.
“Sometimes it’s just being able to tell your story to someone who will believe you to connect with other survivors who have those lived experiences [and] can validate your same experience,” she added. “There is life after rape and sexual assault.”