Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of STEVEN CARTER, 49, for the rape and murder of Antoinette Bennett in 1986. The crime remained unsolved for 24 years, but the case was reopened last year by the Manhattan DA’s Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, which was created in April 2010 and is reviewing thousands of unsolved homicides dating back to the 1970s. After a thorough re-examination of evidence and the use of new forensic techniques, investigators from the District Attorney’s Office uncovered sufficient evidence to charge CARTER with murder. CARTER is charged with two counts of Murder in the Second Degree, including one count of murder for causing the victim’s death during the commission of a felony rape.[1]

“The Office’s new Cold Case Unit uses advances in DNA technology to solve homicides,” said District Attorney Vance. “The victim’s valiant fight for her life—in which she clawed at her attacker, scraping his skin—made today’s indictment possible. Through new forensic techniques and the diligent work of the Office’s Cold Case Unit and NYPD, we hope to bring a small measure of closure to the victim’s family in this case. Cold cases should not be forgotten cases.”

According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, on November 10, 1986, the victim’s body was found by park workers in a playground area in St. Nicholas Park. She was lying face down and had been strangled, stabbed in the face, and partially disrobed. Investigators in 1986 found semen on her inner thigh, but no further testing could be done at the time, and the case remained unsolved.

Last year, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit reopened the case and re-examined evidence, including physical evidence held by the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which was used to create a DNA profile for CARTER. This evidence led to today’s indictment.

CARTER is not charged with rape because the statute of limitations in effect when this crime occurred has expired.

District Attorney Vance created the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit to re-examine unsolved murders and sex crimes through the use of DNA evidence and other forensic advancements, as well as re-interviewing witnesses. Last fall, the Unit began reviewing more than 3,000 unsolved homicides committed in Manhattan since the 1970s. In January, the Office announced its first cold case murder indictment under the new program for the murder of two women in the 1970s. And last month, the Unit’s work led to the arrest of a defendant—whose DNA profile had been previously indicted as a “John Doe”—for the rape and burglary of a woman on the Lower East Side in 1998.

Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford, Acting Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, and co-chief with Melissa Mourges, of the Forensic Science/Cold Case Unit, are handling the prosecution of this case. Manhattan North Homicide Task Force Detectives Ed Clifford and Nate Coniglio and DANY Investigator Siobhan Berry assisted in the investigation.

Defendant information:

STEVEN CARTER, D.O.B. 6/17/1962
Bronx, N.Y.

• Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, 2 counts

A class A felony is punishable by up to life in prison.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.