ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Forensic genealogy has lead to the arrest of an Albuquerque man who’s accused in a decades old rape cold case. That suspect is also under investigation for possible ties to as many as seven other unsolved rape cases in Albuquerque.
District Attorney Raúl Torrez’s office made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, saying detectives have arrested Edward Gilbert Duran, 63 in a 1997 Albuquerque rape case. Duran was taken into custody Tuesday morning.
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According to court documents, the crime happened in the early hours of July 7, 1997. A woman who lived in an apartment complex in northeast Albuquerque was attacked by an unidentified man, who walked into her apartment by entering through a door that was propped open. The victim says she was held at knifepoint and sexually assaulted.
Shortly after the assault, the victim was examined by a sexual assault nurse in Albuquerque, who collected DNA evidence of the assault. The kit was only recently tested for DNA matching amid a push by the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Police to clear the backlog of untested rape kits.”
“That kit sat for years as part of an accumulating rape kit backlog that has impacted the lives of women in this community, across the state of New Mexico and indeed across the country,” said Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez. “As a result of (recent) screening, the sexual assault that was inflicted on this woman in July of 1997 was then matched and linked to at least seven other unsolved sexual assaults that occurred in the city of Albuquerque in the mid and late 1990’s.”
While those kits all had matching DNA, investigators had to determine whose DNA it was. DA Torrez says investigators used forensic genealogy investigation to help find out who the DNA belonged to. According to a criminal complaint, the male DNA did not match anyone in the federal Combined DNA Index System (CODIS,) the database of DNA from unknown suspected criminal offenders and convicted criminal offenders.
“(We) submitted the material from that kit to BODE Laboratories as a partner that we have contracted with in order to move quickly through the outstanding rape kit backlog,” Torrez said. “It was a result of that testing which lead ultimately to an apprehension and arrest this morning of Edward Gilbert Duran for his involvement in this sexual assault and potentially linking him to at least seven others.”
According to a criminal complaint filed against Duran, once a detective with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office started looking into Duran as a suspect based on genealogy data, the detective began surveilling Duran. Eventually, the detective was presented with an opportunity to collected Duran’s DNA from a sample left behind at an Albuquerque restaurant.
The criminal complaint states on November 15, the investigating detective followed Duran to the Samurai Grill and Sushi Bar restaurant on Montgomery near Eubank. Duran, who was out with his family at the restaurant, left a used fork behind, which was collected for DNA comparison.
“After the family finished their meal and the dessert, they paid the bill and left the restaurant. I then check the area where Edward Duran has been sitting and I observed a fork on the Teppan table directly in front of what Edward Duran had been sitting. I collected this fork with a plastic glove and placed it in a paper bag.”From the arrest warrant affidavit of Edward Gilbert Duran, filed December 21, 2021
On December 9, investigators received a positive match between the male DNA sample collected from the 1997 rape kit and the fork collected by investigators on November 15, 2021. Investigators say Gilbert’s DNA is also connected to seven other criminal investigations for criminal sexual penetration. Those cases are said to have occurred in July 1990, August 1992, October 1992, January 1993, July 1993, October 1993, and January 1994.
According to the DA’s Office, Gilbert was previously convicted in 1979 for a criminal sexual penetration and aggravated burglary case. In 1989, Gilbert was accused in an assault with intent to commit a violent felony case. He was sentenced in 1991, serving six months in jail and two-and-a-half years of probation. Since 1991, Gilbert has not been convicted in any other felony cases.
Torrez said Tuesday his office is now in the process of determining the facts involved in the seven other cases, saying the cases are under active investigation. “We need to go back through and first locate all the victims, and we have to go into each investigative file and see what we’re able to charge in terms of, whether it’s a first-degree sexual assault, second-degree, things of that nature.”