NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Two cold case rapes in Queens may have been solved as part of a DNA retesting initiative.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced the indictment of a convict for two rape cases dating back to 1997.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Johnny Dupree, 55, is currently serving a sentence of 16 years to life as a persistent felony offender on a burglary conviction.

He was indicted Friday on charges of raping two women in Richmond Hill, Queens in separate attacks more than 16 years ago.

Both victims were sexually assaulted at knifepoint after Dupree broke into their apartments as they slept, the DA’s office said. The victims were both in their early 20s at the time of the assaults.

The Queens DA’s office is in the process of reviewing every cold case of sexual assault.

As part of the review rape kit evidence and clothing that had been tested years ago was retested using more sophisticated techniques now available, prosecutors said.

Brown said the DNA tests in these two cases were conclusively matched to Dupree, Cornell reported.

“My office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been systematically reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in Queens County dating back to 1996 – which is as far as the statute of limitations permits,” Brown said in a statement. “This case underscores the crucial importance of DNA evidence which is irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence.”

Dupree was indicted on two counts each of first degree rape and first degree sodomy.

If convicted, Dupree could get an additional 25 years in prison.

The DA’s cold case initiative, which began nearly two years ago using federal grant money, focuses on identifying evidence that has not been previously tested, and also on retesting rape kit samples using
more sensitive modern techniques.

To date, the initiative has resulted in 13 John Doe indictments covering 17 separate criminal incidents, as well the indictments of two named individuals, including Dupree, according to prosecutors.

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