Defendant Ronnie Simpson, 37, was booked into the Shelby County jail early Monday on two counts of aggravated rape.
On March 12, 1999, a 28-year-old woman told police she was walking in the Orange Mound area of Grand and Zanone when a man she knew only as “Shun” struck her in the head with a handgun, pulled her clothing off and raped her.
An unidentified male’s DNA was obtained and uploaded into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) where it was monitored for a possible match.
In March of 2014, the unidentified male DNA profile was indicted to prevent the statute of limitations from expiring. A month later a match was obtained and, following further investigation by police, Ronnie Simpson was identified and indicted by a grand jury in March of 2016.
In the search for Simpson, DA criminal investigator A. J. Kant determined that the defendant was no longer in Memphis and was living in the Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills.
Kant reached out to police Sgt. Melissa Allen there who enlisted the help of fellow Officers Keith Fulgium, Ryan Abbott, Cody Brock and Keil Kearney who conducted surveillance on the home where Simpson was believed to be living.
When Simpson could not be found, the officers traced Simpson to a homeless shelter in Austin, about 200 miles south of North Richland Hills. On April 18, Simpson was taken into custody at the shelter on the outstanding warrant for aggravated rape.
Gen. Weirich sent each of the North Richland Hills officers a letter of commendation for “outstanding perseverance in assisting in the locating of a fugitive responsible for a brutal crime in Memphis, Tennessee.”
The case is being handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Abby Wallace of the DA’s Special Victims Unit which prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse of child victims; rape and aggravated rape of adult victims, and abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults.
SVU reviews child-victim cases with Shelby County’s multi-agency Child Protection Investigative Team.