Phoenix police say they've solved a rape case from 2004 with the arrest of a convicted sex offender.
That's the good news, which must bring tremendous relief to the victim, who was 17 when Keith Edward Allen broke into her home and subjected her to a lengthy, horrific attack.
But the bad news, as you can tell from the time involved here, is that this case took far too long to process -- especially since police had everything they needed to solve the case after it occurred eight years ago.
Allen was convicted in 1998 for sexual misconduct with a minor and served more than five years in prison, records show.
On the night of November 16, 2004, Allen crept into the teen's home, which was about a mile and a half from the home of his parents, near Chandler Boulevard and 32nd Street, where he was living.
Allen woke the sleeping teen, tied her arms behind her back with a sweatshirt, and forced to perform numerous sex acts. During the crime, he took a drink from a cup on her nightstand. When he was done, he told the blindfolded teen he was "going to go visit your mom."
Allen then fled the home without attacking anyone else.
The girl was treated at a hospital, where semen from the rapist was collected.
But the sample wasn't enough to provide a positive match on any suspects, and the case fell into the back of the pile, says Phoenix police spokesman Sergeant Tommy Thompson.
It stayed on the back burner for years. In 2007, the case was one of thousands inherited by a new investigator, Thompson says. Three years later, that investigator was going over the details of the case and realized that the crime lab had never sampled the cup used by the rapist.
The cup was sent to the lab -- where it took more than two years to be processed. Newer cases always took priority in the lab until recently, Thompson explains.
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In late August, the DNA test was completed. Allen, who had a DNA sample on file with the state because of his previous conviction, was positively identified as the attacker. The complete DNA profile obtained from the cup also matched the partial DNA profile from the 2004 lab test.
Police arrested Edward on August 30 at the Chevron station where he worked. He was living with his parents, still in the vicinity of his victim.
Cops are seeking charges of sexual assault, sexual abuse, kidnapping, aggravated assault and burglary.
This case is another example of how police agencies -- not just the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office -- need to rethink how sex-crimes investigations are handled.