Cold Case Murder Could Be Linked To Serial Rapist
The chief investigator for Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office believes a serial rapist from the 1980s could also be the killer of an Anne Arundel County woman.
More than 20 years ago, an Anne Arundel County woman was raped and murdered. Her killer was never found.
David Cordle, the Chief Investigator for Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Office, said he's never given up hope of one day identifying her killer.
That day could soon be approaching.
On Monday, Montgomery County Police announced they had solved a 25-year-old rape case of a Silver Spring woman by retesting DNA found at the crime scene.
The rapist was identified as William Joseph Trice, a man who was convicted in Anne Arundel County in 2010 for the 1988 rape of Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf.
"My first reaction was, 'I knew it.' One of the first things I said back when I was giving my statement back on that August morning was he’s done this before," Wheatley-Wolf said. "Having been too close to this guy, he was way too calm and practiced by the time I met him."
Cordle said he's always believed Trice had more victims, and now he believes he may have killed one of them.
"We were working on this homicide at around the same time [as Wheatley-Wolf's rape], and I thought they were connected," Cordle said.
The victim was strangled and raped just like Trice's other victims, but Cordle said rapists usually progress into killers. He didn't think it went the other way until he spoke with an FBI agent who told him it happens from time to time.
Cordle can't ask Trice about it because he hung himself in his jail cell in 2010—just six days after being convicted.
Wheatley-Wolf said she wouldn't be completely surprised to find out that Trice was a killer.
"I would feel odd, but he did try to strangle and suffocate me," Wheatley-Wolf said. "The rape was almost an afterthought with him."
The DNA collected from the unsolved murder has been used twice to exclude two suspects, but it lacks enough definitive markers to be entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a national database of offender DNA.
Cordle said the standards for entering DNA into CODIS is very high, but he believes there could be enough genetic material in this sample to close the case.
Now he waits for the answer.
If the DNA is a match for Trice, he will alert surrounding counties to look at both homicides and attempted rape cases from the 1980s.
"They don’t need permission to retest evidence, they just need the money," Cordle said. "I’m in a unique position, because my boss is very supportive of cold case investigation because we’ve had a lot of success with it."
The retesting of DNA and fingerprints is expensive and time consuming. Cordle said there are dozens of current and more recent cases that tend to get priority.
The samples collected from Wheatley-Wolf's rape were able to be restested nearly 20 years later thanks to a 2003 law called The DNA Initiative. It provided federal dollars in the form of grants to city, county and state police departments to retest cold case samples.
Cordle and Wheatley-Wolf said they are hopeful that if and when more of Trice's victims become known, there will be a greater push to test cold case DNA.