One Year: 1995

Season 2: Episode 5

Ann Arbor’s DNA Dragnet

A controversy over genetic testing ripped a college town apart, and put 160 innocent Black men under suspicion.


Episode Notes

When a serial rapist struck Ann Arbor, Michigan, the police turned to drastic measures, based on the promise and power of DNA. For law enforcement, genetic testing seemed like a can’t-miss idea. But DNA didn’t fix anything in Ann Arbor. Instead, it ripped the community apart.

This episode of One Year was produced by Evan Chung, Cheyna Roth, Madeline Ducharme, and Josh Levin. Mixing by Merritt Jacob.

Sources for This Episode


Stipe, Peter. Badge 112. Down & Out Books, 2021.  


Boyarsky, Bill. “The O.J. Simpson Murder Trial: A Hard Way to Learn About DNA,” Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1995.

Cain, Stephen. “Police Chief Defends Handling of Rape Case,” Ann Arbor News, Jan. 10, 1995.

Cain, Stephen and John Niyo. “Blacks Feel Wounded by Suspicion,” Ann Arbor News, Jan. 25, 1995.

Cain, Stephen and Marianne Rzepka. “A Life on the Fringe,” Ann Arbor News, March 3, 1995.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Black Men Recount Pain of Being Suspected in Rapes,” Ann Arbor News, Dec. 11, 1994.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Police Give Public Improved Profile of Serial Rapist,” Ann Arbor News, June 30, 1994.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Police Mum on Details Gathered in Rape Probe,” Ann Arbor News, Oct. 18, 1994.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Police Offer Sketch of 2nd Attacker,” Ann Arbor News, Nov. 2, 1994.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Police Suspect Serial Rapist,” Ann Arbor News, May 9, 1994.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Reward in Serial Rapist Case Grows,” Ann Arbor News, Oct. 29, 1994.

Chadiha, Jeffri. “Tips Lead Nowhere,” Ann Arbor News, May 11, 1994.

Cobain, Ian. “Killer Breakthrough—the Day DNA Evidence First Nailed a Murderer,” the Guardian, June 7, 2016.

Emerson, Karen. “Police Take Hit at Rapist Forum,” Ann Arbor News, Aug. 3, 1995.

Emerson, Karen. “Police Vow to Return Samples Eventually,” Ann Arbor News, July 18, 1995.

George, Maryanne. “Blood Samples From Rape Case in Dispute,” Detroit Free Press, Dec. 15, 1995.

George, Maryanne. “Serial Fear,” Detroit Free Press, Dec. 4, 1994.

George, Maryanne and David Zeman. “Evidence Says Jailed Man Is Rapist,” Detroit Free Press, Jan. 7, 1995.

Hodges, Michael H. “A City on Edge,” Detroit Free Press, Oct. 22, 1994.

Hunt, Don. “Manhunt,” Ann Arbor Observer, September 1994.

Kirchner, Lauren. “DNA Dragnet: In Some Cities, Police Go From Stop-and-Frisk to Stop-and-Spit,” ProPublica, Sept. 12, 2016.

Leung, Rebecca. “DNA Dragnet,” CBS News, Sept. 10, 2004.

Lunsford, Walter. “We Had to Follow Serial Rape Investigation Wherever It Led,” Ann Arbor News, July 14, 1995.

Mathis, Jo Collins. “Cabbie Describes Tension of Pursuit,” Ann Arbor News, Jan. 10, 1995.

Montgomery, Lori. “Crime Wounds Our Freedom,” Detroit Free Press, July 14, 1994.

Morrison, Patt. “Barry Scheck on the O.J. Trial, DNA Evidence, and the Innocence Project,” Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2014.

Oguntoyinbo, Lekan, “Return DNA Results, High Court Tells State,” Detroit Free Press, July 31, 1997.

Oppat, Susan. “Reaction to Verdict: Relief, But Some Doubts,” Ann Arbor News, June 15, 1995.

Stipe, Peter. “A Death on the West Side,” Ann Arbor Observer, November 2021.

Treml, William B. “Police See Similarities in Attacks,” Ann Arbor News, Oct. 30, 1993.

Walker, Sam. “In Michigan, A Community Clashes Over DNA Testing,” Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 26, 1995.

Wilkins, Dave. “Assailant Is Not Rapist, Police Say,” Ann Arbor News, Dec. 25, 1994.

Windsor, Patricia. “Residents Won’t Surrender Park,” Ann Arbor News, Oct. 1, 1992.

Woods, John A. “T-Shirts Impart Somber Messages at Rally,” Ann Arbor News, April 23, 1995.


Saad, Rana. “Discovery, development, and current applications of DNA identity testing.” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings 18, 2 (April 2005): 130-133. Retrieved from:

Walker, Samuel. Police DNA “Sweeps” Extremely Unproductive: A National Survey of Police DNA “Sweeps.” Omaha: Department of Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska at Omaha, September 2004. Accessed November 2021.


About the Show

The people and struggles that changed America—one year at a time. In each episode, host Josh Levin explores a story you may have forgotten, or one you’ve never heard of before. What were the moments that transformed politics, culture, science, religion, and more? And how does the nation’s past shape our present?

The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City, America went online, and the Macarena took over nightclubs.

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