Re-testing of DNA helps crack 17-year-old case of Durham woman's rape, assault

14 April 2022

— Durham Police have made an arrest in a 17-year-old cold case, in which a woman was raped and beaten in her home.

Investigators said they have been combing through thousands of old sexual assault case files. During that process, investigator Winston Hunt said he noticed something that caught his attention. Hunt said he chased it down and that is why there is now an arrest.

Hunt is one of two Durham investigators devoted to solving sexual assault cases that have gone cold.

“It means a lot. I know it’s a big responsibility,” he said. “It feels really good to know that, as a team, we can come together to really solve stuff that is solvable.”

In 2020, Hunt said he was going through files from a 2005 rape case where a man broke into the home of an elderly woman on Gary Street, beat and sexually assaulted her. Hunt said the woman was home alone and getting ready to go to sleep. As soon as she laid down, Hunt said the woman heard a noise coming from outside her bedroom, so she went to investigate.

“He attacked her, pushed her on the bed, beat her with an object, duct taped her [and] was looking through items in her home, looking for money, things like that,” said Hunt. “Then, when I guess he couldn’t find enough things, that’s when he proceeded to sexually assault her.”

“Sometimes, it can be hard to read things like that,” he said. “It really just strengthens the resolve to try to do everything you can.”

At the time of the crime, the only option was to run DNA through a state database. While going through the case file, Hunt said he recognized the DNA should be re-tested with newer technology available.

“It didn’t seem like a big thing I was doing,” said Hunt. “I had no idea it was eventually going to lead to this.”

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In 2022, the new DNA test came back with a match: Timothy Rorie, 58, was already in the system from a 2008 charge. In February, Rorie was charged with first-degree rape, burglary and kidnapping for the 2005 assault.

Rorie remains at Durham County Jail with a $750,000 bond.

Hunt said while he’s grateful, he knows there is still a lot of work to do.

“When you go and talk to the victims and their families and see how it has affected them for so long, it really helps bring into perspective the good that’s coming from re-investigating and re-looking at cases and doing everything that you can to bring closure,” he said.

The survivor in this case is now in her 80s.

“Being able to bring closure to somebody who went through something so horrific is a good feeling,” said Hunt.

Hunt said he has spoken with her and her family and the trauma continues to affect her. But Hunt said the family is very glad to hear about the arrest.

“It means a lot for her. It means a lot for her family as well. She has a strong family group. For them, as a whole, to know the case wasn’t forgotten, and we did what we can and to get some closure for them has been really good for the family as a whole.”

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