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Having permission to feel scared was oddly helpful. Still, in November 1999, when she was well enough to move out of her sister's and into a new place with Molly, she was tormented by the idea that the rapist had her driver's license. Juliette considered changing her name but never did. "For five years, I knew for sure he was coming to get me," she says. "I knew it."
McFall was a failure in the empathy department. Juliette jokes that one of the first times her ex saw her after the attack, he said, "Thank God he didn't kill you, so that you could tell them that it wasn't me." But McFall did play one major part in the pursuit of Juliette's rapist.
McFall ran into an old law-school classmate, Tristram Hunt, and mentioned Juliette's assault. At the time, Hunt was employed as a prosecutor with the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office. Hunt offered to look into the case.
Hunt was just in time. In 2001, Kansas had a two-year statute of limitations for violent crimes. Statutes of limitations, which vary by state, exist because, in theory, a suspect's ability to mount a defense against a criminal charge diminishes with the passing of time. Under the two-year statute of limitations, prosecutors would lose their opportunity to charge anyone in Juliette's attack as of August 17, 2001.
But by 2001, prosecutors had increasingly begun to use DNA evidence to circumvent statutes of limitations.
Ted Hunt (no relation to Tristram) of the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office in Kansas City, Missouri, specializes in sex crimes and the use of DNA evidence. The federal rules, he explains, allow prosecutors to charge perpetrators by name "or by any other description through which they can be identified with reasonable certainty." When an assailant leaves behind enough DNA for a forensic crime lab to create a profile based on genetic markers, those genetic markers can be used in lieu of a name when charging a suspect for a crime. Prosecutors refer to these defendants as "John Does."
On May 1, 2001, then Wyandotte County District Attorney Nick Tomasic charged Juliette's John Doe with attempted murder, rape and aggravated burglary and set bond at $1 million. It was the first time that the district attorney in Wyandotte County had charged an unidentified suspect based on DNA evidence. The charges effectively stopped the clock on the statute of limitations.
When the DNA profile in Juliette's case was developed by the crime lab of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, it was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which checked it first against forensic samples of offenders at the local and state levels and then against samples in jurisdictions nationwide. No hits.
"It's not like a one-time search," Ted Hunt says. CODIS periodically rechecks unidentified profiles against the new profiles that are constantly entered into the system. "Something could sit and languish, let's say, for years, and then somebody new comes into the system. If they get convicted, they're required to give a sample, their profile gets developed and gets uploaded, and then all of a sudden you get a hit."
The Missouri Legislature passed a law in 2009 requiring anyone arrested for violent crimes, sex offenses and burglaries to submit DNA samples. If they are found guilty, the profile is entered into CODIS. If they're not guilty, the profile is erased.
Some profiles will never get a match in CODIS. Persons who commit non-felony crimes aren't subject to CODIS entry. If Juliette's rapist were later convicted of a misdemeanor, he wouldn't be required to submit his DNA to the database. In other cases, "maybe the suspect dies, and his profile, before he died, for whatever reason, didn't make it into the system," Ted Hunt says. "That profile [from Juliette's attacker] is always going to be in there, and you're never going to match to it."