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Victim in cold case takes stand during rape trial

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 4:56 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The victim in a high profile rape case took the witness stand Monday to testify about being raped 25 years ago.

When North Carolina began testing backlogged rape kits a couple of years ago, officials say her kit got a match to a Florida man named Wayne Soller.

At the time of the crime in Septemer 1996, the victim was a 24-year-old teacher, living at an apartment complex off St. John’s Court near Independence Mall. She says she woke up in the middle of the night with a strange man on top of her. He punched her in the face, put a pillow over her face so no one would hear her scream, and raped her.

The case went unsolved for decades until the victim called Wilmington Police in 2018, and asked them to test her rape kit. It had been sitting on the shelf untested with thousands of other rape kits across the state, until the legislature finally approved funding to test them.

The DNA from her kit matched Soller, who lived in Florida and had his DNA put into a national database in 2014 after getting into a scuffle with a police officer. He’d come to Wilmington in 1996 to do construction work following the hurricanes.

The doctor and nurse who took the victim’s rape kit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center 25 years ago also took the stand Monday, explaining the nature of her injuries. She suffered a laceration to her left eyebrow after being punched in the face. While she did not have any visible injuries otherwise, authorities say Soller’s DNA was collected from her body when she went to the hospital. She also had to be screened for STDs and pregnancy after the traumatic experience.

The victim testified that after the attack, she finished up her year teaching at Hoggard, and left the state. Officers involved with the case are expected to testify next. The state could rest its case by Wednesday.

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