Suspect finally arrested in four-year-old rape cases

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Selma Times-journal

Four years after a victim was allegedly raped, evidence was finally processed by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences resulting in an arrest Sunday.

Frank Earhart Tate, a 42-year-old Dallas County resident, was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree rape after evidence from two different four-year-old cases was processed.

In July 2001 and December 2001, two victims were examined by medical personnel. In the process of examination, DNA from the attacker was collected from the victims. Tate, identified as a suspect at the time, submitted DNA samples as part of the investigation process in the December incident.

The sample was registered with the FBI’s national DNA database, called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).

Due to a backlog at the state forensic science lab, the samples took four years to analyze.

When the evidence was processed in both cases, DNA samples collected from the victims identified Tate as a suspect.

A warrant was issued for Tate’s arrest on June 23. He was arrested at his home on County Road 273.

On the same day his arrest warrant was issued Tate was implicated in a third rape. Police say the victim identified Tate as her assailant.

According to the district attorney’s office, Tate may be involved in a fourth rape case reported in 1998.

Assistant district attorney Shannon Lynch said Tate was identified as a suspect in the case but was never indicted because the victim didn’t show up for the Grand Jury hearing.

She said that because the 1998 case was “pre-CODIS” the district attorney’s office didn’t have any evidence to continue prosecution.

Still, a rape kit was collected and processed, which means it can be matched with CODIS samples.

Lynch said she expects Tate will be implicated in the 1998 case.

“I expect it’s going to be a (CODIS) hit,” she said.

Lynch said that Tate may be connected with more crimes in the area.

“There seems to be a serious pattern,” she said. “This guy is turning out to be a serial rapist.”

Lynch said that Tate’s arrest may result in more charges.

“I’m hoping more people will come forward,” she said.

Police officials said they were pleased with the arrest and were glad that modern technology was giving new life to “cold cases.”

“Modern technology is now making it possible for these old DNA charges to be compared to cold cases,” Selma Police Public Relations Officer Lt. David Evans stated in a release. “Detectives are pleased they were able to arrest someone they characterized as a serial rapist.”

Evans also said he hoped the arrest led to more charges and a better level of security for victims.

“(We) feel there may be other victims that will now feel safe coming forward to report being the victim of a rape,” Evans stated.