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Huntington-Marshall partnership solves cold case

Herald-Dispatch photo by Sholten Singer Terry Fenger, director of the Marshall University Forensic Science Center, speaks during a press conference discussing the new partnership between Marshall University Forensic Science Center and the Huntington Police Department on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, in Huntington.
Herald-Dispatch photo by Sholten Singer
Terry Fenger, director of the Marshall University Forensic Science Center, speaks during a press conference discussing the new partnership between Marshall University Forensic Science Center and the Huntington Police Department on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — It’s been 11 years since a tractor-trailer truck driver forced a 24-year-old Huntington woman into his cab at knifepoint, raped her and drove away leaving her alone just before midnight along a road leading to Huntington High School.

Detectives worked the case for a week, but the investigation grew cold and a rape kit containing her attacker’s DNA would sit in storage for years.

It collected dust until a partnership struck nearly two years ago moved her untested kit to Marshall University’s Forensic Science Center. Analysts extracted the stranger’s DNA, added it to a nationwide database, and this summer it matched that of a truck driver in Mansfield, Ohio.

It further led to a four-count indictment, unsealed Wednesday, against Oswald Ryan Gibson. The 50-year-old sat behind bars Wednesday charged with two other rapes in Mansfield.

Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry led the investigation 11 years ago and recently notified the victim police have a suspect.

“Big tears came down from her eyes,” he recalled. “She said, ‘I never thought, with this many years past, they’d ever find out who did it.'”

Local officials used this month’s indictment as a platform Wednesday to tout the success of their partnership with Marshall University, insisting broader use of the Huntington lab could solve thousands of cases statewide…

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