North Carolina man sentenced in 1994 Indiana cold rape case

Robert Shelton was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to a 1994 cold rape case. (Credit: Indiana State Police)

A North Carolina man has been sentenced in a 1994 cold rape case.

The Indiana State Police said Robert Daniel Shelton was sentenced to 30 years in the Indiana Department of Correction after pleading guilty to rape. 

Authorities said in December 1994, a 19-year-old woman was kidnapped in Owensboro, Kentucky.

She was ordered to drive to Indiana, where she was later sexually assaulted by an unknown man. The victim was ordered to lie on the floorboard inside of her vehicle while the suspect drove back, parked the car in Kentucky, and ran away.

In 2022, investigators submitted DNA evidence to CODIS, an index system, to identify a potential suspect. 

In January 2023, a match came back to 60-year-old Shelton of Hickory, North Carolina. Shelton also had an unrelated conviction in 1996 in Kentucky, and he was required to submit a DNA sample.

A few weeks later, Shelton was arrested and charged with the crime. 

"This case exemplifies the proficient investigative abilities of both law enforcement agencies," Spencer County Prosecutor Megan Bennet said in an online news release. "Without their diligent efforts in collecting DNA evidence, this perpetrator would have never been held accountable for his crime. The courageous victim in this matter finally sees justice after three decades of waiting."

This story was reported from Los Angeles.