Updated: June 24, 2019 10:25 PM
A St. Louis Park man got away with murder for 30-plus years. But now, 64-year-old Darrell Rea will face the consequences in a Hennepin County courtroom Tuesday morning.
Judge Tamara Garcia will preside over the sentencing hearing. Rea opted for trial by judge instead of trial by jury, and back in May, Judge Garcia found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Laurie Mesedahl.
The body of the Minneapolis teenager was found along railroad tracks in North Minneapolis in 1983. Her death remained unsolved and became the focus of the Minneapolis Police Department's Cold Case Unit, along with other unsolved violent crimes.
Under state guidelines at the time, Rea could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison. Based on time already served and with good behavior, he could be out in five years. As part of his conviction, Rea is also required to give a new DNA sample which will be added to the FBI's database for comparison nationwide.
Other women have said, and DNA proved, they are victim's of Rea's violence as well. Even though he can't be charged in her attack, 54-year-old Mary-Scott Hunter will get her day in court. She intends to be at the sentencing to watch Rea be held accountable, even if it's for another crime.
It was 1987 when Mary-Scott Hunter suffered at the hands of an intruder at the home she shared with roommates in South Minneapolis.
"The stranger was coming toward me, he had a screwdriver and used it menacingly," she said.
The suspect forced himself on her for half an hour. Hunter was only 21 years old.
"I didn't think I was going to make it out of the situation alive," she told KSTP.
But, she did, unlike 17-year-old Laurie Mesedahl years earlier. However, like Mesedahl's murder, the investigation in Hunter's case stalled.
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"I accepted the improbability of this person being found," Hunter said.
Minneapolis Police didn't have many clues or enough evidence, and in the late 80s, DNA testing wasn't available in Minnesota. Plus, time was running out, according to Cold Case Homicide Investigator Sgt. Chris Karakostas.
"In Minnesota in the 80s, if you raped a female you had three years, if you could get away with it for 3 years, you're good. It's ridiculous," Karakostas said.
Hunter felt like the law failed her. She gave up hope. Yet, police kept her rape kit on file, which contained her attacker's DNA.
In 2013, when investigators analyzed unsolved crimes, the state's forensic lab re-tested old DNA samples. There was hit after hit involving the same suspect who was known to police.
"He's gotten away with a lot of stuff," replied Karakostas.
Finally, in 2017, authorities had what they needed to arrest, charge and prosecute Darrell Rea with Laurie Mesedahl's murder. The DNA also identified him as Hunter's attacker. In March of 2018, investigators delivered that news to Hunter at home.
"I never in a million years imagined something like that happening," she said.
Sgt. Karakostas said the investigation of Rea won't end when Tuesday's hearing does. He suspects there are still more victims.
Updated: June 24, 2019 10:25 PM
Published: June 24, 2019 12:00 AM
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