Cold case rape solved thanks to DNA match - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Cold case rape solved thanks to DNA match

Posted: Updated:
Paul Penrod 1994 mugshot (Source: LMPD) Paul Penrod 1994 mugshot (Source: LMPD)
Paul Penrod 2009 mugshot (Source: LMPD) Paul Penrod 2009 mugshot (Source: LMPD)
Det. Ann Cohen, LMPD Det. Ann Cohen, LMPD
Stacy Warnecke, Kentucky CODIS administrator Stacy Warnecke, Kentucky CODIS administrator

By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted By Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - 15 years ago, Louisville Metro Police say a 16-year-old girl was raped at the Kentucky State Fair. The suspect, who lured the girl to a remote area of the Fairgrounds, was never caught, until now. Police say thanks to a new law that requires all convicted felons to enter their DNA into a crime database, the man is finally under arrest.  

The night of August 27, 1994, police say a 16-year-old girl who became lost from her friends at the Kentucky State Fair ran into Paul Damron Penrod, a stranger who offered to help her find her friends.  Police say Penrod claimed he knew a shortcut, but took the teen to a secluded area and raped her. She was later found curled up on the ground. A witness took her to the Kentucky State Police booth to get help.

Police say the man disappeared and never saw justice. That was until a new Kentucky law went into effect that requires convicted felons to give DNA samples. Penrod was later convicted of not paying child support. After the Kentucky State Police forensic lab matched his DNA to the fair rapist, LMPD detectives sought out the victim.

"I reopened a major wound for her that basically dictated the course of her life at this point," said Det. Ann Cohen of contacting the victim. As difficult as it was, the now 31-year-old woman is working with police.

It is yet another crime solved thanks to the new Kentucky law and cold case grant money. Other cases include the arrest of Robert Sawyers, who police say also did not pay child support. Sawyers DNA sample matched a 2000 rape investigation. DNA evidence also linked 44-year-old David Jackson to three rapes and Robert Allen Edmonds who is now connected to three sexual assaults dating back to 1999. Police say DNA evidence also stopped Joseph Cave, the man known as the flashlight rapist. He was linked to six separate assaults. 

"Basically, we are constantly comparing those unsolved cases to the convicted offenders to see if we can make any links," said Stacy Warnecke, Kentucky CODIS administrator.

"15 years later to be able to tell a victim, ‘I know who raped you,' it's probably the most rewarding thing outside of getting a criminal conviction that I can experience," said Cohen.

According to LMPD, Penrod did not confess to the crime. He is being held in the Ballard County Jail in western Kentucky. Louisville Metro Police expect to clear more cold case homicides and rapes in the future thanks to the new law and grant money.

(Copyright 2009 WAVE-TV and Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)