A woman did everything to fight back against the man who raped her, including grabbing a key piece of evidence during the attack. But now police can't find it, and the woman is worried about where the case stands.
Anne Nostro was raped in Murfreesboro in 2000, and her attacker was never caught. But she had hope because she thought there was good DNA evidence in the hands of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation - a piece of the suspect's hair and scalp she ripped out.
"This dramatically changed my life. It changed who I am," Nostro said.
But she recently asked Murfreesboro police for an update on the case and learned they had never sent her evidence to the TBI crime lab.
"I was told specifically that my evidence had been entered in [the FBI's Combined DNA Index System] verbatim. The only reason I think they told me that was so I would go away. I think I was just another number and another person who would not pursue my own case," Nostro said.
Murfreesboro police declined an interview for this story but did share a few facts, saying:
"While we make every effort to send evidence for DNA testing, in 2000 it was standard practice to hold the evidence for comparison purposes should a suspect be identified."
They also said they have reopened Nostro's rape case and are now preparing evidence to send to the TBI lab.
Murfreesboro police also invited Nostro in for an interview, and she asked them about the hair.
"It's not there. No, I saw the list of evidence. It's not there," she said.
Victims' advocates say this is an awful example of how to handle a sensitive rape case.
"Annie is an incredible survivor. She has a right to expect the system to work for her, and it's failed her and us," said Verna Wyatt, executive director of the group Tennessee Voices for Victims.
Murfreesboro police say they did not lose any evidence and that the hair and scalp were never reported or recorded. They also say they have the case classified as attempted rape.
Nostro maintains she was raped that night and police did take the hair and scalp as evidence.
As far as telling her that the evidence was all at the TBI lab, Murfreesboro police say they are talking with that detective and immediately reopened the case when informed of the situation.
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