Cleveland: Suspect named in serial rapes, murder

6:41 PM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland police says years of diligent detective work, luck and science have resulted in identifying a suspected serial rapist and killer.

Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said, "This was a long time coming. Make no mistake about it, this guy is a predator."

They will charge Larry McGowan with rapes going back to May, 1996 and with the murder of Maxine Pratt.

In 1997, Pratt was raped, beaten and run over with a car. She was left to die in a vacant lot near East 88th Street and Union Avenue.

In May 1996, a 21-year old woman was raped, shot and left to die in the same area. She survived.

Five years ago, cold-case detectives connected those two attacks using DNA. They released a sketch of the suspect.

At the time, detectives did not match the DNA samples with any felons in a national database.

In 2011, police connected the then-unknown man to a December, 2010 rape by matching the earlier DNA sample.

A 1998 rape in the same southeast side neighborhood also provided a DNA match.

McGowan was identified from a DNA sample given in connection with an Akron sexual assault case he's been charged in.

He'd been in prison  most of the time between 2000 and 2012. None of the rapes happened during his incarceration.

Sex crime unit Detectives Christina Cottom and Sharon Johnson have worked diligently to crack the case. They spoke for themselves and victims.

Cottom said, " I'm ecstatic,very very happy for the victims. It's wonderful . It's great to know he's off the street."

Johnson said, " It's surreal. There's still work to be done."

Lt. Jim McPike said, "Sometimes in law enforcement you just hope to get a break. That's what we got in this case."

If the state system of taking and storing prisoner DNA had been working perfectly, McGowan might have been identified sooner.

But police just glad the DNA matchups finally clicked.

"We can only control what we can control, " said Tomba.

McGowan is now  in jail in Summit County in connection with the Akron rape.

The FBI  assisted in the investigation. So did the Cold Case Unit of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office.

Police suspect McGowan may have assaulted more women and ask other possible victims to call Cleveland Police.


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