It’s been 12 years since the rape, and three years since New Orleans police developed a strong lead on who may have committed it.
On Tuesday morning, after so many years came and went, it was Louisiana State Police who arrested James Moye for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl in 2003.
Moye’s alleged crime and the way he had eluded authorities were highlighted in a story published Sunday in The New Orleans Advocate. In early 2012, Moye’s DNA was matched with a 2003 rape kit, but it took more than two years for authorities to seek a warrant for his arrest.
State Police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain said the search for Moye started over the weekend after the newspaper began asking the NOPD questions about the case. A special 42-man detail the State Police has brought to New Orleans for Carnival was discussing its plans.
“They were talking about things to do, to be proactive, and among other things, this article came up,” Cain said. “And they were like, ‘Let’s go get this guy.’ ”
The extra contingent of state troopers will be in New Orleans until at least mid-May. The exact number of troopers will vary, but Cain said residents can expect as many as 200 of them on the streets this weekend as Mardi Gras hits full swing.
Moye’s arrest was part of a strategy outlined by State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson. The troopers are patrolling the French Quarter and surrounding areas, but they also are executing outstanding felony warrants.
So along with foot patrols on Bourbon Street and car patrols on Esplanade Avenue, troopers under the command of Major Carl Saizan checked on a couple of Moye’s last known locations in New Orleans.
Eventually, they got a lead that he might be in Lake Charles, Cain said.
State investigators and members of Troop D, which is headquartered there, arrested Moye early Tuesday and booked him into Calcasieu Parish Prison.
“This is the unique thing about the troopers in New Orleans,” Cain said. “They don’t want to be pigeonholed in the work they’re doing.”
Apart from the additional troopers who are here temporarily, Cain said there are about 100 uniformed troopers and 50 investigators always stationed in New Orleans.
The evidence that connected Moye to the 2003 rape came from a sexual assault kit administered by doctors at Children’s Hospital right after the crime was committed.
After Hurricane Katrina washed away New Orleans’ crime lab, the State Police crime lab was unable to keep up with the huge demand for analyzing evidence. So in 2011, Marshall University in West Virginia agreed to process 833 backlogged sexual assault kits. It is unclear why the rape kit from 2003 was not tested in the two years preceding Katrina.
The 833 rape kits produced 78 matches in a national DNA database, one of which was Moye. The NOPD’s sex crimes unit received word of the DNA hit in February 2012 but apparently took no action. That unit was the subject of a scathing Office of Inspector General report in November that said five of its officers had done little if anything to investigate hundreds of rape cases assigned to them.
An arrest warrant was issued a month after that report, when a homicide detective working overtime looked into the case.
Follow Benjamin Oreskes on Twitter, @boreskes.