- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

Police said Wednesday that DNA evidence links a man suspected of attacking three Dale City, Va., teenagers on Halloween to a series of rapes along the East Coast dating back to 1997.

Prince William and Fairfax police in Virginia and Prince George’s County police in Maryland held a joint press conference to announce that DNA evidence links the attacker to at least 13 incidents from Virginia to Rhode Island.

“The offender has attacked victims in distinct regions at various times over the past 13 years,” said Prince William County Chief of Police Charlie T. Deane. “It is believed that the suspect lived in or spent a considerable amount of time in or was otherwise familiar with the areas of the attacks.”

At least 11 attacks occurred in the D.C. area. DNA connects the man to 11 rapes, an attempted rape and a peeping Tom incident in Rhode Island.

Authorities are asking people to examine the timeline, which they say is unique and could provide clues to the man’s identity. The majority of attacks occurred from 1997 to 2001 in the D.C. area and, after a five-year break, the Rhode Island peeping Tom incident and then a year later a rape in Connecticut.

Authorities are hoping that people will use the timeline and the locations to provide them with clues to the man’s identity, Prince William police spokeswoman Sgt. Kim D. Chinn said.

Although she didn’t want to speculate on why there were breaks between the crimes, she conceded that it could be because of incarceration. It is also possible that there is DNA evidence linking him to rapes somewhere else that has not been processed, she said.

The attacker has been described as a black man of medium build - possibly muscular, now in his mid to late 30s or possibly 40s. The majority of attacks were on women who were out walking, but in at least two incidents, the man broke into the woman’s home.

Police are also investigating his connection to other attacks that he has not been linked to through DNA.

The first attack occurred in Forestville, Md., in February 1997. His DNA was found in attacks on three other Maryland women from 1997 to 1999. Police suspect that he assaulted several other women there.

DNA evidence linked him to four Alexandria assaults from 1999 to 2001. On each occasion, he approached the women with a knife and then took them to secluded locations before attempting to sexually assault them. Fairfax County police said he raped three women, but a 35-year-old woman was able to fight him off in November 2000.

In 2007, Fairfax County investigators linked him to four additional attacks in New Haven, Conn., as well as the four incidents in Prince George’s County and one in Leesburg.

Authorities said he’s threatened women with a gun, a screwdriver and a knife on different occasions.

During the assault on the Dale City teenagers, the man brandished a gun and forced the victims to accompany him to a wooded area. He raped two of the victims but did not touch one of two 16-year-olds.

“It gave you pause because it was so unusual,” Sgt. Chinn said of the Halloween attack, which occurred at about 9:10 p.m. after the teenagers had been trick-or-treating.

The man ordered the victims to lie on the ground while he assaulted one and then another.

He was described as between 5 feet 6 inches tall and 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark colored sneakers.

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