A man arrested in 2016 for harassment complaints from his neighbor turned out to be the suspect for two rape cases in the 1980s, thanks to his DNA test.
DNA samples taken from the man led to his conviction and imprisonment for 23 years Friday, March 16.
According to his neighbor, Eric McKenna urinated into their potted plant following a dispute. His DNA samples following his arrest eventually matched him to his then unsolved crimes committed more than 30 years ago.
McKenna was found guilty of attacking and raping two women in Gateshead and in Newcastle, England. In both cases, McKenna approached the women from behind and threatened them with a knife if they didn't give in.
30 Years Ago
McKenna's first attack took place in April 1983 when he raped a 21-year-old woman who was walking home near the High Level Bridge in Gateshead. McKenna reportedly pushed down the victim into a grassy bank where he proceeded to rape her. The victim reported her attack to the police but they were not able to identify and find the suspect at the time.
McKenna raped another woman in 1988 in Newcastle. This time it was an 18-year-old woman. The victim also reported the crime to the police but she couldn't identify the man who raped her.
Northumbria Police announced the sentencing on their Facebook page, in which the police also included a mugshot of McKenna.
There was little progress in both cases until McKenna was arrested in Northumbria in 2016 for several months of harassment against his neighbor, which included urinating into their potted plant. The neighbor described McKenna as a "nasty controlling man."
There was no connection between McKenna and the two rapes until his DNA was processed and came out as an exact match for both of the crimes. After McKenna was arrested, the police apologized to McKenna's rape victims for not receiving the proper support when the crime had occurred. They pointed out the less-developed forensic techniques at the time, which let McKenna evade arrest.
Police further said that the man's "stupidity" got him caught. According to them, McKenna didn't show any remorse when he was arrested.