published Thursday, February 10th, 2011

McMinn man to be extradited in 24-year-old Louisiana rape case

A 49-year-old McMinn County man is awaiting extradition to Louisiana after he was arrested Tuesday and confessed to a 1987 rape, according to authorities.

Tommy Ray Gurley, of 207 County Road 314, is charged in connection with a case in St. Tammany Parish, La.

"We've apprehended a dangerous suspect in McMinn County, helped in solving a 24-year-old cold case, and may also have contributed to solving other cases across the South," McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said in a news release.

Guy said Gurley has lived in several Southeastern states over the past 25 years, and other agencies likely will resubmit DNA in cold rape cases to see if he is a possible suspect.

Gurley was identified as a suspect when his DNA was entered into a national database after a 2008 arrest in North Carolina.

The St. Tammany Sheriff's Office was notified in May that Gurley's DNA matched its cold case evidence. On Jan. 27, Louisiana detectives contacted the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to let it know Gurley was living in either McMinn or Monroe County.

"We assisted them in locating the suspect and obtaining the search warrant," TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said.

TBI agents contacted St. Tammany Parish police after they found Gurley at his home in northwest McMinn County, where he'd lived for about two years. Louisiana detectives came to McMinn County on Monday to join local officials in the arrest and to serve a DNA search warrant Tuesday morning.

St. Tammany Police Capt. George Bonnett said the extradition process to Louisiana should go smoothly.

"We're working with authorities [in McMinn County] on the arrest and extradition, and hopefully that'll go smoothly and we'll have him here soon," he said.

Gurley is being held on a fugitive-from-justice warrant at the McMinn County Justice Center.

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