DNA Wins Conviction In 1973 Rape

Kathleen Ham speaks during a news conference in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005. Fletcher Anderson Worrell, 58, was convicted Wednesday of raping Ham at knifepoint 32 years ago, a verdict made possible by DNA technology that did not exist when he was a suspect decades ago.
A jury took less than two hours Wednesday to convict a man of raping a woman 32 years ago at knifepoint — a verdict made possible by DNA technology that did not exist when the suspect escaped conviction in the 1970s.

Fletcher Anderson Worrell, 58, was found guilty of rape and robbery in the 1973 attack on Kathleen Ham in her Manhattan apartment.

Ham, 58, a lawyer who lives in California, testified in chilling detail about the attack; she asked that her name be made public to show she is not ashamed.

Worrell could get 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison on each of the two counts at sentencing Nov. 28.

His original trial in the case, in 1974, ended with a hung jury, and he was convicted a year later in Queens in a separate attack. That conviction was reversed. Prosecutors said Worrell jumped bail while awaiting retrial on the two rape cases.

Worrell was arrested last year in DeKalb County, Ga., after he tried to buy a shotgun, prosecutors say. When authorities did a background check, the New York bail-jump warrants surfaced and he was arrested.

Authorities also want to question Worrell in connection with 21 sex attacks in Maryland and at least two more in New Jersey through 1993.

Juror Robert L. Jones said the panel reached its verdict because of the DNA evidence and the testimony of police officers who said they saw Worrell in the apartment and chased him out of the building after the attack.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for