Cold case DNA matches prisoner's

Herbert Leroy Holmes

Using DNA evidence, investigators with the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office have arrested an inmate at a state prison in connection with a 1984 armed robbery and sexual assault.

Herbert Leroy Holmes Jr., 45, an inmate at Evans Correctional Institution in Bennettsville, is charged with armed robbery and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with a brutal robbery at a store on Dorchester Road, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday.

According to the S.C. Department of Corrections website, Holmes is serving a life sentence for a 1988 sexual assault in Berkeley County. He has been in the prison system since 1989.

The arrest came about after investigators re- examined evidence in an Oct. 25, 1984, robbery and sexual assault at Book Bag on Dorchester Road. In that case, a lone gunman robbed the clerk of more that $400, then dragged her into a back room, sexually assaulted her and took her jewelry, the release said.

The assailant ran away on foot. No suspect had been identified over the past 26 years.

While the Sheriff's Office does not have a dedicated Cold Case investigator, Sheriff L.C. Knight has mandated that old cases be reviewed periodically to determine if new leads have come in or new technology could be used, the release said.

The DNA samples from the Book Bag case were entered into the state's Combined DNA Index System and a match came up with a prisoner who already was in custody. The Corrections Department maintains a database of DNA samples for all convicted prisoners.

Holmes will be transported to the Summerville Annex of the Dorchester County Detention Center for a bond hearing today , the release said.

Knight said that clearing old cases such as this one "gives great personal satisfaction and hopefully will help bring closure to the victims and their families."