When Your Rape Doesn’t Count – By Madison Pauly (Mother Jones) / Nov 28 2019
DNA identified a serial predator. The law let him off the hook.
Something about the knock at the front door made Mary-Scott Hunter think a neighbor was in trouble. She had just arrived home from her job at a corporate training company, and she was mulling over an earlier fight with her girlfriend, but the sound jolted her out of it: five loud, fast raps. She could see two men looming through the window, dressed in oddly formal clothing. When she cracked the door, they identified themselves: a Minneapolis police officer and an FBI agent.
Oh shit, Hunter thought. What have I done wrong? She wasn’t sure if she should open the door. She didn’t trust cops all that much. She let them in but remained standing, uncertain, as they settled into her living room.
The men asked Hunter if she had been raped in 1987. Yes, she said.
They told her they had identified the stranger who’d broken into her house when she was 21 years old and attacked her in the hallway outside her bedroom. The suspect’s name was Darrell Rea. After 31 years, he was in custody.
First came the shock. Then relief—and, finally, happiness.
“Seriously?” she asked.
Sergeant Chris Karakostas, a homicide investigator at the Minneapolis Police Department, assured her it was true. He asked her if she wanted to sit down, so she did, and she listened.
From the perspective of police, Hunter had done everything right back in 1987. She’d immediately called the cops, allowed a nurse to collect a rape kit, and recounted the attack in painful detail during multiple police interviews. But the rape had taken place four years before the state forensics lab began testing DNA, and other leads went nowhere. For decades, Hunter lived with the uncertainty of whether her rapist was still out there.
Yet while Hunter’s case went dormant, Rea came under suspicion for a slew of other crimes. Police came to believe that the former apartment building caretaker could be linked to a number of sexual assault, physical assault, murder, and missing person cases, according to a criminal complaint. But he was never convicted of serious charges.