Twelve years after a rape kit was taken for a February 2011 incident at Lake Ellsworth, a felony arrest warrant was issued Thursday for the man accused of committing the crime.
DNA results had been caught up in the backlog of rape kits at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) until recent years.
The Comanche County District Court issued the arrest warrant for Austin Nate Lankister, 30, of Valliant, for a count of first-degree rape by force or fear, records indicate. The crime is punishable by between five years to life in prison.
OSBI Special Agent Fernando J. Diaz was assigned the case at the request of the Lawton Police Department.
The incident is alleged to have happened Feb. 21, 2011, while the victim was assaulted and became unconscious in the wooded area off of Jake Dunn Road at the lake, according to the warrant affidavit. She was found with her pants pulled down. She was taken to Comanche County Memorial Hospital and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination was conducted and rape kit collected.
On Feb. 2, 2022, the contents of the rape kit were tested and DNA matching Lankister returned from the vaginal swabs, the affidavit states. Lankister was identified through the Combined DNA Index System.
Diaz spoke with the woman who said she’d been dating Lankister at the time of the incident. She said she’d been drinking beer that night and when she stopped Lankister from kissing her, he propped her against a truck, according to the affidavit. When she was awakened, she was bleeding from the face.
The witness who found the woman said when she tried to call 911, another person struck her in the face and took her phone, Diaz stated.
It took until Feb. 27 for a search warrant to be obtained for a DNA sample from Lankister. He told the agent he’d never been alone with the woman and hadn’t had sex with her there, the affidavit states. He told the agent he didn’t know how his DNA was found on the woman, Diaz stated.
According to the OSBI, a past backlog of 7,200 rape kits in 2018 were awaiting laboratory analysis. Currently, the OSBI forensic laboratory has over 500 kits that are backlogged. However, the OSBI states that is due in part to new laws that have passed requiring nearly all kits be submitted for analysis, i.e. more kits are being submitted for testing.
A $100,000 cash warrant bond was issued upon Lankister’s arrest.