Martin County's oldest rape cold case solved - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Martin County's oldest rape cold case solved

Richard Gwinn Richard Gwinn
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By Meghan McRoberts

MARTIN COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - The Martin County Sheriff's Office has closed its oldest rape cold case, putting serial rapist Richard Gwinn behind bars for life. 

Thanks to DNA technology, two Martin County women now know who bound them, covered their eyes, and raped them 25 years ago. 

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says during the last year detectives have focused increased efforts on combing through old cold cases and retesting DNA. 

Because of those efforts, Snyder says, they were able to make a positive match between DNA taken in a 1988 rape case to a man in an Ohio prison, Richard Gwinn. 

After the positive match, detectives met with Gwinn in Ohio where he admitted to raping at least 40 people since the 1970s.

Gwinn is currently in prison serving time for other sexual assault convictions. 

Gwinn gave detectives insight into how he would find his victims. "My Typical M.O is to get in a car and drive to a residential section, park the car, run around in the neighborhood, look in the windows and find someone who appears to be vulnerable," Gwinn told detectives. 

That's just what, he said, he did when he targeted a Martin County mother and her young daughter in September 1988. Detectives say he broke in, bound the women, covered their eyes and raped them. 

This happened only months after being released from prison on other sexual assault charges. Gwinn said he still had access to porn in prison which fed his sexual desires. He says, in the past, he didn't receive treatment or help. "He had sexually battered, so many women over so many years that he legitimately didn't remember the details of all of his crimes," Snyder said. 

When he raped the Martin County mother and daughter, he told detectives he was in town for a wedding and left town shortly after the sexual assaults. "One of the reasons it was not solved back then was he only did it here one time. That's the biggest danger with these monsters that travel, it's very hard for law enforcement to get a focus on who they are," Snyder said. 

Now, decades later, those victims have an answer for who committed the crime. 

Snyder hoping they will rest easier knowing he can no longer target other women. "This guy deserved to die in the electric chair. He does not deserve to draw breath anywhere in any prison," Snyder said. 

He is expected to be released from the prison in Ohio in his 80s. If he is still alive, he will be transferred to Martin County to serve two life sentences. 

Snyder says Gwinn also committed sex crimes in Indiana, in addition to Ohio and Florida.

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