WEST POINT — Amber Quick quietly stood at the front of the small courtroom inside the West Point Police Department on Monday afternoon as detectives announced they had a breakthrough in her 2003 rape case.
When asked if she would like to speak, Quick only had one thing to say to those involved in helping her get answers.
“I just want to thank y’all,” Quick said. “After 19 years, you can finally put it to the side, and I appreciate everything y’all did.”
This is the second 2003 rape cold case in which WPPD has made a breakthrough over the past month, and detectives Raven Ross and Rameriz Ivy said they are connected in more ways than just the suspect.
Fredrick Fitzgerald Gandy, 55, of West Point has been charged with Quick’s rape after DNA connected him to the incident. In July, he was charged with the rape, attempted murder burglary and robbery of Nashedra Strong-Clay after his DNA connected him to that cold case.
Quick’s assault occurred the night of July 7 or the early morning hours of July 8 in 2003. Strong-Clay’s attack occurred “four or five hours” afterward, Ivy said Monday.
While Ivy was investigating the Nashedra Strong-Clay case, his team discovered there was another rape victim from that night. Ivy gave the case to Ross, who submitted DNA from the 2003 case to a private crime lab for testing.
“After going through the legal process, getting a search warrant and submitting evidence, we produced Frederick Fitzgerald Gandy again as a suspect …,” Ivy said. “… As I spoke last time (in July), it’s very seldom you can have a victim stand beside you in a press (conference). Normally the situation is a lot different.”
Gandy only faces an additional charge of rape for now, but detectives are still going over details of the case. Ivy said there is a potential for another charge as the investigation is still ongoing.
On the night of Quick’s assault, Ivy said, she was told to drive her vehicle down TVA Road where she was then raped. WPPD Chief Avery Cook said the suspect got into Quick’s car and forced her to drive down the road.
“When we were investigating the first case, we saw similarities in this case as well based on things we discovered in the last case,” Ivy said. “Of course, we go through and if anybody knew of anything that took place during that time, it’s always helpful.”
As the lead detective on the case, Ross looked up the evidence that was taken from Quick that night, which had not been sent for crime lab testing in 2003. However, she said the biggest road bumps when looking into a cold case is catching up with people and finding new evidence not previously logged.
“It’s hard catching up with people,” Ross said. “People move, especially because it’s been almost 20 years. The victim no longer lives here in West Point, even the investigators who were working on the case no longer live here. It was a challenge to get in touch with everybody since everybody is so scattered out in different cities and have moved on with their lives past this incident.”
While this is the second cold case in a month to have a breakthrough from WPPD, it is also the fourth in Golden Triangle since 2017 that DNA played a major role in nailing down a suspect.
There was a breakthrough in a 1990 murder case in Starkville in 2018 when a suspect was arrested charged with capital murder and sexual battery after investigators matched DNA taken from one of his cigarette butts to the DNA profile from the rape kit in the case.
In 2017 in Columbus, a suspect was arrested for capital murder in the July 1996 death of Mack Fowler. The suspect’s DNA sample entered into a federal database from the Fowler case, and it was matched with a swab the police collected from the Columbus suspect’s 2016 aggravated assault arrest.
Gandy is being held at the Clay County Jail, and his bond is currently still set at $950,000.
Assistant District Attorney Trina Davidson-Brooks commended WPPD and the detectives for their work in helping to get a suspect for Quick’s case.
“I just want to recognize the effort and dedication that the investigators from the West Point Police Department have put into actually developing a suspect in this case,” Brooks said. “I want to recognize (Chief Avery Cook) for actually standing behind the investigators, giving them the room to reopen these cold cases and allow them to do what they need to do to help solve these cases.”
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