WEST POINT • It took nearly 20 years, but Nashreda Strong-Clay finally knows the name of the man suspected of attacking her in January 2003.
Frederick Fitzgerald Gandy, 55, of West Point, was arrested Monday afternoon and charged with burglary, rape, attempted murder and attempted armed robbery. He is being held in the Clay County Jail on a $950,000 bond. West Point Police Chief Avery Cook said Gandy will have an initial appearance Friday.
The arrest was the result of old-fashioned police work and modern science. When the police department reopened the case earlier this year, detective Lt. Ramirez Ivy discovered some evidence that had never been DNA tested. It was sent to the state crime lab in Pearl. Police say testing methods not available in 2003 delivered results that pointed at Gandy. Officials refused to go into detail about the evidence.
“The pretrial rules do not allow us to say much about the evidence,” said Scott Colom, 16th Circuit District Attorney. “I will say this is very solid evidence. I am confident we will be able to get a conviction.”
Colom did note that the testing was not genetic genealogy. It was more traditional DNA testing that developed a profile that could be entered in the national crime data bank, CODIS. It was in that system that Gandy was first identified as a suspect.
Assistant District Attorney Trina Davidson Brooks said that when Ivy received the DNA, he immediately contacted her to see what legal steps needed to be taken to shore up the criminal case.
The victim had reached out to the West Point Police Department several times over the years about reopening the case. COVID-19 delayed taking another look at the case, but when Strong-Clay asked this spring, Ivy was ready to take on the case.
“We are here to work for the victims,” Ivy said. “It’s a blessing that we were able to get her some closure and some answers.”
The victim thanked both God and detective Ivy for their quick work. She reached out April 5. Just months later, there is an arrest.
“He treated me so humanely and that is what is missing so many times in cases like this,” said Strong-Clay, who is now a victim’s advocate in Memphis, Tennessee.
She said she felt no ill will toward the police department for the two decades she had to wait.
“I don’t blame anyone but the suspect,” Strong-Clay said.
The crime happened Jan. 8, 2003 at the Dunlap Apartments.