(Cleveland) - Career criminal and convicted sex offender Larry McGowan has been indicted for five cold case rapes and for the 1997 murder of one of those victims.
Friday’s indictment of McGowan by the Grand Jury is the 100th brought about through the work of the DNA Cold Case Task Force in the County Prosecutor’s Office, since it was organized in March of 2013.
The Grand Jury charged McGowan with two counts of Aggravated Murder, one count of Murder, seven counts of Rape, eight counts of Kidnapping, three counts of Aggravated Robbery and two counts of Aggravated Burglary.
The DNA Cold Case Task Force, a joint effort of the County Prosecutor’s Office, the Cleveland Police Department, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, pursues leads generated by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.
Rick Bell, Chief of Criminal Investigations for the Prosecutor's Office says over the past 13 months, the DNA Cold Case Task Force has launched 835 investigations as BCI forensic scientists continue to work through a backlog of more than 4,000 rape kits from police agencies in Cuyahoga County that had never been submitted for DNA testing.
Rick Bell of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.
Based on early projections, Bells tells Newsradio WTAM 1100, that he anticipates there could be more than 1,000 indictments by the time the Task Force finishes its work.
To date, roughly one-third of DNA Cold Case Task Force indictments have involved serial rapists - that is, offenders tied to more than one victim.
Defendants in the first 100 indictments had more than 160 victims. And Bells says McGowan is among the very worst offenders.
His DNA has been tied to five rapes of Cleveland women in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2010. McGowan, 38, has now been indicted in all of those cases, including two in 1998.
In addition, he has been indicted for the aggravated murder of one of those victims: 41-year-old Maxine Pratt, who was raped and killed on February 2, 1997, on East 87 Street in Cleveland.
Bell says, McGowan drove over her head with a car, presumably thinking he had silenced the only witness to his crime. He did not reckon with the investigative value of the DNA he left behind.
McGowan has already started serving an 11-year sentence for the November 2012 rape of an Akron woman. Cleveland police continue to investigate McGowan for a 2010 murder.
Ohio law has required authorities to collect DNA from individuals who have been arrested on felony charges since 2011. McGowan’s is the first indictment for the Task Force to be based on an arrestee’s DNA sample.
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(Photo by Ken Robinson/WTAM)