by Valerie Verkamp
A resident of Platte County, who is a previously convicted sex offender, has been charged with two counts of rape that occurred 20 years ago.
The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office this week charged Keith L. Harris, age 48, with two charges of forcible rape.
Harris, who resides in the 8000 block of Mace Road, Kansas City in Platte County, was previously found guilty of first degree rape in Binghamton, New York.
That conviction stemmed from an act of rape that occurred in 1995, three years after Harris allegedly raped two young women, ages 17 and 19, in Kansas City.
According to court documents, on the night of April 5, 1992, the victims were confronted by a man who identified himself as “Keith” inside a tavern located at Kansas Avenue and 10th Street in Kansas City, Kan.
The man told the young girls he was from Louisiana and offered to drive them to another tavern. The girls took him up on his offer and entered his semi-truck.
The victims allege that the truck driver pulled into an unpaved vacant lot near a railroad located at Nicholson and North Monroe in Kansas City and threatened the victims with a knife.
“Keith” allegedly held the weapon to the throat of one of the victims, threatening to kill her. He instructed the victims to lie down in an area within the truck and to strip their clothes from their bodies.
He also threatened the victims with a gun, not visible to the girls.
According to the probable cause statement, “Keith” allegedly proceeded to rape both victims. One victim escaped from the truck and sought help at a nearby residence. She later returned to the crime scene to discover the suspect had fled, leaving behind the other victim, who was now with police.
Following the incident, both victims were transferred to an area hospital where biological evidence was obtained and taken to the crime laboratory.
On Aug. 8, 2012 the unknown suspect's DNA matched that of Keith L. Harris, states the probable cause statement. The combined DNA Index System used to match the biological evidence linked Harris to the cold case.
Cold cases in Jackson County are investigated through the cohesion of the Kansas City Police Department, as well as the Crime Laboratory, and the Jackson County Prosecutor's office. According to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office website, the convictions of cold cases stand 96% of the time.
Harris is in custody on a $350,000 bond. He denies ever meeting the victims.