CMPD: Man arrested in 88' and 94' sexual assault cold cases

- The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department arrested a local man in Gastonia this week in connection to two separate sexual assault cold cases. 

"Both are local still and are very, very appreciative," CMPD Lt. Melanie Peacock. "Both were very grateful and just glad they hadn't been forgotten about," she said. 

Zellie Edwards, 49, is charged with two counts of second-degree rape and one count of second-degree kidnapping.

On Sept. 29, 1988, at approximately 11:35 p.m., CMPD officers responded to a sexual assault call in the 8500 block of Nations Ford Road. The female victim, who was 16-years-old at the time, was walking home when the suspect began following her. He then pulled her into a vacant apartment where he sexually assaulted her. 

On April 19, 1994, at approximately 12:04 a.m., CMPD officers responded to the 1900 block of West Boulevard. The victim, who was 17-years-old at that time, advised she was walking home when the suspect began walking with her and engaging her in conversation before sexually assaulting her in a wooded area. 

In both of these cases, police said the victims were transported to the hospital for treatment and evidence was collected. 

In 2017, evidence from both cases were included for testing as part of a federal grant CMPD received.  DNA evidence confirmed Zellie Edwards as the suspect in both cases.

"Its allowed us to do is bring justice to victims and how excited we are to have that opportunity to be able to do a lot of the work that resource wise we couldn't do with just our crime lab and crime detectives," said Lt. Peacock.  

Sexual Assault Cold Case Detectives then obtained warrants for Edward’s arrest. On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 Edwards was located and arrested without incident in Gastonia. He was transported to police headquarters where he was interviewed and subsequently transported to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. 

The CMPD Sexual Assault Cold Case Unit has reviewed 2,886 cases since it began in 2006. Of those cases, 260 have been cleared, 80 of which were cleared by arrest, 177 were exceptionally cleared and three have been unfounded.

Anyone with information concerning these cases or the suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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