DNA expert shares odds of finding another match to Beaufort rape from the 80s
Isaiah Gadson had not seen the dark-haired woman since 1983.
He glared at her from his seat Wednesday morning — as he had Monday when she testified in a pretrial hearing, as he had Tuesday when she sat in the gallery under the protective arm of her husband, tissues in hand.
"Do you remember talking on the phone to me?" Hunter Swanson, a prosecutor with the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office, asked the woman, who had just taken the witness stand.
"You weren’t sure you were going to come in and testify ..."
"I was afraid."
"Why were you afraid?"
"In February 1983, I was assaulted by Mr. Gadson," the woman said quietly.
Gadson, sitting just a short distance away in Courtroom One of the Beaufort County Courthouse, is on trial for the 1980 murder of 18-year-old David Krulewicz of Coosaw Island and for the rape of Krulewicz's 15-year-old girlfriend of Burton.
It is one of Beaufort County's oldest cold cases — reopened in 1999 by Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner shortly after he was elected to his first term, and re-investigated by the department's cold case team, led by Capt. Bob Bromage, who has stayed on the case ever since.
In 2003, a profile of the unknown assailant was developed using semen from the teenager's pants and underwear; 13 years later that profile turned up as a match to Gadson, whose DNA, as a result of being charged in 2016 of a violent crime, had been entered into an FBI database.
On Tuesday, the victim from the 1980 case, then a 10th-grader at Beaufort Academy and now a woman in her 50s, told the jury about how an unknown man — who said he would blow her brains out, and forced her to perform oral sex on him at gunpoint, and performed oral sex on her, and raped her and made her feel like she would most certainly die on a remote dirt road in Burton on that January night — apologized to her afterward and, she suspects, called her five months later to ask her if she enjoyed it.
A day later, the jury heard an eerily similar story.
The woman on the stand Wednesday was a 21-year-old Marine when, 35 years ago, she accepted what seemed like an act of kindness from a stranger.
It was not.
In the predawn hours of Feb. 24, 1983, in Beaufort, the woman — walking along Boundary Street to what was then the Country Store, where she would meet up with a carpool to Parris Island — encountered Gadson.
She was running late. He offered her a ride.
She got in the car.
Instead of taking her to the Country Store, Gadson drove her to a remote dirt road in Burton, told her he would blow her brains out, performed oral sex on her, raped her, asked her if she enjoyed it and then apologized.
"He said he didn’t know why he did that," she told the jury. "And he said he was sorry."
This woman, too, was certain she would die on that remote dirt road.
Gadson dropped her off near the Country Store.
"I truly expected to hear a gunshot," she said, recalling her thoughts as she walked away from his car. "I expected him not to leave me alive, but he did."
In the ensuing investigation, Gadson admitted to picking up the woman, to asking her if she wanted to "make some love" and to touching her crotch, but he denied raping her.
In the summer of 1983, he pleaded no contest to the charges, which had been reduced to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
After her testimony, the dark-haired woman returned to her seat in the gallery and tucked back into safety of her husband's arm.
This woman, who now lives out of state, never had a chance to testify in her own case.
She returned to Beaufort this week for this trial — in solidarity with the 1980 victims and their families, a seeming act of kindness to strangers.
And it was.
The trial continues with closing arguments at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Courtroom One.