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DNA links twice-convicted murderer to unsolved 1982 rape

Updated: 2014-02-01T01:57:54Z

By CHRISTINE VENDEL

The Kansas City Star

Jackson County prosecutors on Friday accused a twice-convicted murderer of raping a college student in 1982 after DNA linked him to the unsolved crime.

Prosecutors charged Sam H. Pullam, 63, who is in prison in Cameron, Mo., with two counts of forcible rape. Pullam has been behind bars since the late 1980s but was scheduled for parole hearings in the next few years, police said.

The 19-year-old victim had returned from classes at Penn Valley Community College about 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 21, 1982, and was walking up the stairs to her apartment in a housing project in the 1900 block of East 12th Street. After she reached the fourth-floor landing, someone grabbed her from behind and dragged her into a vacant apartment on the third floor.

The man threw her on the bathroom floor and raped her. Then a second man came into the bathroom and raped her. During the second rape, the victim heard the first rapist say someone was calling for the victim.

As it turned out, the victim’s sister saw the victim get dropped off at the complex and wondered why she never reached her apartment. She went looking for the victim.

Meanwhile, the rapists used the victim’s clothing to bind her arms and legs, and they stuffed her underwear in her mouth, then fled.

The next day, witnesses recognized two men at the complex as being the same men who had been hanging around the vacant apartment at the time of the rape. They called police.

Police stopped the men and identified one of them as Pullam. Witnesses could not pick Pullam out of a lineup. One witness identified the second man, but no charges were filed. DNA technology was not available.

Cold-case sex crimes detectives resurrected the case in 2012, and the crime lab later linked DNA evidence from the case to Pullam.

Detectives interviewed Pullam in mid-January, and he said he and the second man worked at the apartment complex as day laborers cleaning up vacant apartments. Pullam told police he and the second man attacked the victim, according to court documents.

The second man has not been charged in this rape but is serving a 30-year sentence for an unrelated forcible rape and sodomy case.

Details about Pullam’s murder convictions were not available. One occurred in Jackson County and one in St. Louis.

To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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