A federal DNA indexing system has helped bring an almost 16-year-old Georgia rape case to a close.
Donald Norred, 41, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Monday in Chattooga County Superior Court for the 1998 rape of a woman in rural Lookout Mountain, Ga.
Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin said the case might have remained unsolved had it not been for the Combined DNA Index System, kept up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"At the time, it was a stranger-on-stranger assault, so those are more difficult to investigate," Franklin said.
On Aug. 2, 1998, police responded to a report of a woman and her male friend being attacked by a man who had claimed to be an undercover police officer. They told police that the attacker approached their parked car and asked them to step out of the vehicle.
At that point, the attacker pushed the male victim off a nearby bluff and assaulted the woman. After catching himself on a ledge, the male victim climbed the bluff and charged at the assailant, but the attacker was able to get away in his own car.
The case sat dormant for years, Franklin said.
"We had a description of the attacker and a description of his car -- but not much more than that," he said.
It wasn't until more than a decade later that the attacker was identified. While Norred was serving time for other rape convictions, a scan of his DNA matched evidence in the Lookout Mountain case, Franklin said.
Norred was indicted during a special presentment on July 8, 2013, and pleaded guilty Monday to rape, aggravated sodomy and kidnapping. Chattooga County Superior Court Judge Kristina C. Graham sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
Chattooga Sheriff Mark Schrader said it is a relief to have the cold case solved.
"I actually was working here on patrol when that happened. It is, it's a relief. He was sentenced without the possibility of parole, so that's justice served," Schrader said.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press does not publish the names of victims of sexual assault.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfree press.com or at 423-757-6481.