In 1986 and early 1987, at least 21 Central Florida women were victims of a violent serial rapist. Some were slashed or stabbed. An Orlando Police Department and Orange County Sheriff's Office task force apprehended Tommie Lee Andrews. I participated in that effort.
For the first time in U.S. history, Orange County prosecutors established acceptance of DNA technology in our criminal courts. Andrews' own DNA and fingerprint helped to convict him -- twice. In 1987, he was sentenced to serve 100 years in prison. Appeals, and gain time reduced that to a mere 25 years.
Last Wednesday, an Orange County jury verdict assured that Andrews is to remain in controlled custody under provisions of Florida's Ryce Law. I commend the jurors for rendering that verdict.
Last week, four courageous women testified before strangers in an Orange County courtroom about the violent, unspeakably deviant victimization Andrews inflicted on them more than 25 years ago. They knew Andrews would act as his own attorney and would confront them face to face.
These four courageous women have protected our community. Had they chosen not to testify, we may have seen Andrews freely walking our public streets next week. Andrews still refuses counseling and denies his guilt.
I pray that the challenge they so bravely faced shall help to restore the peace in their lives that they so richly deserve. These four ladies deserve our deepest gratitude and our respect.
Neil McDonald of Orlando is a retired criminal investigator for the Orlando Police Department. He enjoys his family, church missions, nature, woodworking, fishing and photography. He wrote this letter because the women's "emotional testimony and courage were compelling and were a moral imperative for me to let our community know what they had done for all of us."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun