TUCSON - Technology helped detectives solve a Tucson cold case regarding the brutal rape of a 93-year-old woman. The person responsible for this horrific crime was finally brought to justice 22 years later.
The original detective of the case is now an assistant chief.
“This was one of the most brutal attacks I’ve ever seen,” Tucson Police Department Assistant Chief Carla Johnson said.
Then Det. Johnson was assigned to the Adult Sexual Assault Unit. On April 28, 1993, someone broke into 93-year-old Mary Ellen Scott's assisted living apartment, located off of Grant Road, in the middle of the night.
“He beat her in the head with her own high heels shoes and sexually assaulted her,” said Johnson.
Scott was taken to Tucson Medical Center, where Johnson met with her.
“Bones in her face were broken," said Johnson. "It was an incredibly violent attack.”
Johnson said it was so horrific, “she later lost an eye because the beating had been so severe.”
The attack was so traumatic, Scott never recovered from her injuries.
“She didn't recall anything," said Johnson. "She was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.”
She died seven months later. The case went cold. Johnson, along with other detectives, never gave up hope.
“There were scores of people involved in the years, insuring that this case was investigated to its fullest,” she said.
Det. Ron Deakin reviewed the case in 2010. Deakin was well aware of the work others had done before him, from the crime scene unit to the lab that processed the various items that were collected.
In 2011, detectives discovered that 48-year-old Claude Ranger from Phoenix matched the DNA profile.
“We learned his mother had been employed during that time frame at the care facility," said Deakin. "We learned she also lived in close proximity in the neighborhood.”
Ranger served time in prison for drug charges from 2001 through 2007. That was why Ranger's DNA was in the system.
Phoenix police and the U.S. Marshals Office arrested Ranger and he went to trial.
“He basically stood by the fact that it wasn't him, it was a misidentification,” said Deakin.
The DNA profile said otherwise.
“I don't feel we had closure until the jury came back and said guilty, and they did,” said Johnson.
Claude Ranger was convicted of aggravated assault, serious physical injury and guilty of sexual assault.
“I am pleased we have justice for Mary Ellen Scott at this point and I will always remember her,” said Johnson.
Arizona State Prison records show Claude Ranger was also convicted in Phoenix on sexual assault charges last year. He is serving a 50 year sentence.
Ranger will be sentenced in Tucson on Dec. 14.