DNA solved 'cold case' rape of developmentally disabled woman 16 years later, prosecutor says

Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-08 22:04:09-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- A DNA sample solved a rape cold case about 16 years after the crime, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell announced Thursday.

Sixteen years ago, nurses at Brookside Extended Care discovered one of their residents -- a 29-year-old woman with developmental disabilities so severe she could neither walk nor speak -- had been violently sexually assaulted by an unknown man overnight. Not one of them, Fornshell said, has ever been able to forget it.

"It's sickening to think that anybody would be capable of doing that to someone so vulnerable," he said.

The victim died in 2011. The only DNA evidence of the culprit's identity -- blood and semen found in the victim's diaper after the assault -- languished without matches for over a decade, and $6,000 in reward money didn't coax leads out of the surrounding community. Brookside made improvements to its security, including the installation of many alarms and surveillance cameras, but no suspects emerged.

Until Thursday.

Fornshell believes a DNA cross-check has successfully identified the culprit as Brian Sundin, a 42-year-old whose DNA was on file with the Florida Department of Corrections. 

Sundin was with charged the rape in February after the match was made, but his indictment remained sealed while he was at large. According to a news release from Fornshell, he was recently arrested and convicted of a theft offense in Williamson County, Tennessee.

With Sundin already behind bars, Warren County authorities unsealed the indictment and began the process of extraditing him to Ohio.

Authorities believe Sundin, who lived nearby at the time, entered Brookside through an unlocked door and assaulted the victim, according to the news release.

Although the victim is no longer living, Fornshell said everyone from doctors to detectives agreed the county should seek justice for her sake and that of her family. 

"It's going to be a situation where no jury is going to believe she in any way consented to any of this happening," he said.