Cold-case New Orleans 1975 rape solved after casual chat at law enforcement confab

A conversation at a law enforcement conference in Florida last year led to an arrest in the cold-case rape of a Tulane University student 45 years ago.

Ronald Craig, 64, has been charged with raping the woman in her off-campus apartment in 1975, authorities said Thursday.

A Cleveland prosecutor and two New Orleans prosecutors, who work on sex crime cases, met at a conference in Jacksonville in November. 

Mugshot for Ronald Craig, 64

Mugshot for Ronald Craig, 64 (Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office)

The Cleveland prosecutor mentioned that he knew about the Tulane student’s unsolved mystery because the woman was from Ohio, the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office said.

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After hearing about the case, the New Orleans prosecutors reopened it. 

“Underwear and a bedsheet associated with the rape were sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab in August, and dried bodily fluids on the evidence were found viable for modern DNA testing,” the DA’s office said.

The DNA was uploaded to the FBI’s offender database, producing a hit.

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“The scientific evidence pointed to Craig, a New Orleans East man with a long history of violent felonies, and narcotics and parole violations,” the DA’s office said.

The victim told police two men in masks broke into her apartment and raped her.

The second suspect in the attack remains unidentified.

“The victim shared her story in Ohio and wondered what ever became of the investigation after she had started a career outside New Orleans,” Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said. “A concerned prosecutor in Cleveland made sure to mention it to new colleagues he met from New Orleans.”

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He added, “It’s a truly remarkable story and a credit to all the dedicated people involved.”

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