Untested sexual assault kits in the Triangle make up over a quarter of kits statewide

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Authorities with the City of Durham and the state announced an arrest Thursday from a sexual assault that happened in Durham in 2015, this case only being the tip of the iceberg of incidents in the Triangle.

In Durham, there are 1,400 untested sexual assault kits, 3,350 in the Triangle and up to 12,000 statewide.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the new law, the "Survivors Act" is addressing the backlog by hiring more staff to analyze the kits. The law also allows sex assault kits to be outsourced to accredited labs and processed within 45 days.

"To the rapists, we want to be very clear no matter how long ago you committed your crime we will never stop coming for you," said Stein.

Emanuel Burch was charged with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree sexual offense stemming from an attack at Ellerbee Creek Trail.

In the attack, a woman told authorities she was choked until she was unconscious and then sexually assaulted. On Nov. 11, 2015, the woman was walking home along West Trinity Avenue when she noticed a man walking behind her. She said the man grabbed her from behind and wrapped his arm around her neck until she lost consciousness. Durham police say she was pulled into the woods near Dacian Avenue and assaulted.

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Emanuel Burch was charged with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree sexual offense stemming from an attack on Ellerbee Creek Trail.

When she came to, she called 911 with the help of residents along the street.

Lt. Stephen Vaughan said Burch was homeless and usually seen around Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Burch had several run-ins with police, mostly in Durham.

Police Chief CJ Davis says a new 3-year, $1 million federal grant helped fund the investigation.

In September 2019, Investigators learned a DNA profile from the crime scene matched a DNA profile in the National Combined DNA Index System database, which was linked to Burch. In October, investigators collected a DNA sample from Burch.

On Jan. 16, Durham Police learned Burch's DNA matched the DNA profile from the scene.

Burch, 32, was arrested on Jan. 22 in Chapel Hill. He was placed in the Durham County Jail under a $500,000 bond.

Vaughan said in addition to Burch's arrests, five other cold sexual assault cases from throughout the state have resulted in an arrest.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was on hand to commend the efforts of the investigation.

"I am pleased to join those here to announce the arrest of the man we believe committed this crime," Stein said. "Thank you for your diligent work. Sometimes justice is swift, sometimes it takes a little longer."

For those that may have experienced trauma of some sort is asked to contact the Crisis Response Center at (919) 403-6562, the hotline is open 24-hours.
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