COLD CASE BREAKTHROUGH: Testing of rape kit leads to DNA match, arrest in 1996 sexual assault

Updated: Jun. 10, 2019 at 3:09 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A man was arrested last week for the rape of woman in Wilmington 23 years ago.

The Wilmington Police Department, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David and NC Attorney General Josh Stein made the announcement Monday that Wayne Edward Soller, 61, of Deltona, Fla., was arrested June 5 for the 1996 sexual assault. A New Hanover grand jury indicted Soller of first-degree rape, first degree burglary and first degree sexual offense on Monday.

According to a news release from David's office, Soller was arrested in Deltona and made his first court appearance in Volusia County (Fla.) on June 6. A judge ordered Soller to be held in Volusia County under no bond as he awaits extradition to North Carolina.

"Law enforcement is often a difficult job, but moments like this are why we do what we do," WPD Chief Ralph Evangelous said in a statement. "Though it’s been 23 years since this heinous act occurred, our victim will finally see justice, and hopefully closure."

NC Attorney General Josh Stein speaks during a news conference Monday in Wilmington.
NC Attorney General Josh Stein speaks during a news conference Monday in Wilmington.(@NCAGO Twitter)

The indictment states Soller broke into the victim’s home on St. Johns Court with the intent to rape her. He then performed a sexual act on the victim while saying he had a knife.

Soller's arrest was made possible through a DNA match after a statewide push by Stein to process backlogged rape kits.

WPD detectives traveled to Florida to interview Soller, which helped bring the case to a close.

"We know that DNA can breathe new life into cold cases," Stein said.

This rape kit was submitted for testing in October, and the results came back three weeks ago.

Police were able to find a DNA match because Soller had been arrested for assaulting a police officer in Florida.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has made it an initiative to get backlogged rape kits tested in North Carolina.

“When we test kits we solve crimes and we solve three very important messages. To the rapists, we say we will keep coming for you. To the victims we say we will not stop fighting for you. To the public we say we will continue to work to keep you safe,” he said.

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