Backlogged rape kit yields another arrest, victim shares her story

Memphis rape kit backlog yields another arrest
Rape survivor Debby Sirten shares her story and advice for other sexual assault victims. Source: WMC Action News 5
Rape survivor Debby Sirten shares her story and advice for other sexual assault victims. Source: WMC Action News 5

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Charles Baker, Jr. is in jail, after a 15-year-old rape kit matched his DNA.

But the woman who says Baker raped her, must still relive the terror every day.

"It has been 15 years, but the pain stayed with me," Debby Sirten said.

An affidavit states Sirten was walking on Jackson Avenue on Feb. 10, 2000, when a man driving a work truck abducted her at gunpoint. She says he forced her into his truck.

"He took me out to a field, and he raped me," the rape survivor explained.

Sirten says after the rape, he started beating her.

"I truly believe when he left me laying on that dirt, he left me for dead."

A friend of hers convinced her to go to the rape crisis center.

She had nightmares for 15 years. Then in July 2012, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation DNA test--one of

--was uploaded into the DNA Index System.

Last February, Sirten identified Charles Baker Jr. in a photo spread. Three months later, investigators collected Baker's DNA for comparison. Last month, the TBI matched Baker's DNA to Sirten's case.

Wednesday, a detective delivered the news Sirten.

"I cried. I was happy, and then my thoughts went to his family."

But she had just one sad regret.

"I just wish my husband was here, because it bothered him for so many years and he died a couple years ago," she said.

Sirten still wears her wedding ring.

"I always felt kind of dirty after that." she reflected. "That I wasn't right, and Robert tried to convince me, 'Debby, it's not your fault.'"

Baker has an extensive criminal background. He's linked to 24 crimes across three states dating back more than a decade. The charges range from kidnapping to burglary to a slew of felony drug charges.

One of Baker's relatives had no comment Wednesday.

With the recent arrest, Sirten can't help but wonder if more women could have been saved, had the rape kits been tested immediately.

"I don't believe this was his first rodeo, and I believe they're going to find more rape kits on him," said Sirten.

She says she's thankful for the investigators in the case, but has a message for other sexual assault survivors.

"Go tell someone. Get some help. Don't let him get by with it. Even if it's somebody you know and you care for," Sirten urges for others.

Officials arrested Baker Tuesday evening and he is now in Shelby County Jail on a $95,000 bond.

Copyright 2015 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.