In May 1990, an elderly woman in Wayne County was raped. Less then two months later, 74-year-old Hattie Bonner was found raped and suffocated in her Goldsboro home. In October 1990, police say an intruder broke into a home on East Holly Street home, stabbed 78-year-old retired Southern Bell executive Al Bowen, then raped and strangled his 76-year-old wife, Thelma. The suspect then torched their house.
Authorities did not have any leads on the so-called Nightstalker cases until 2001, when a federal grant allowed the SBI crime lab to pull evidence from old, unsolved cases.
Investigators took a DNA sample of Forte when he was accused of firing a weapon into an occupied home. Authorities were able to match it to the so-called Nightstalker cases. Forte had never been questioned about the crimes.
It took jurors three hours of deliberations before they returned with the sentence.
Following the sentencing, two members of the families who lost their relatives in the murders thanked prosecutors and investigators for their work throughout the years. At that moment, many members of the jury were seen with tears in their eyes.
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