- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

A suspected serial killer in Georgia worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for two years after he was arrested in the District of Columbia in 1989 for assaulting a woman with a knife, court records show.
Reinaldo J. Rivera, 37, who is facing charges in the slayings of four women in the Augusta, Ga., area, was arrested on Jan. 17, 1989, for the knife attack, according to D.C. Superior Court records.
But he was released the same day when the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia declined to prosecute the case, records show.
Details of the incident are sketchy because the case file is archived. D.C. police detectives are trying to determine whether Rivera began his pattern of killing women in the District more than a decade ago.
"There could be other cases," a law enforcement source familiar with the case told The Washington Times. "There might be a body or two here we need to look for."
Rivera was an ensign in the U.S. Navy before being discharged in 1995, after authorities in Texas charged him with soliciting a minor.
One remaining question that details of the archived case must answer is whether D.C. police notified the Navy, and if so, what action was taken against Rivera.
The U.S. Navy does not comment on specific details of an investigation, such as whether it received notification about Rivera's arrest, said Lt. Bill Speaks, a naval spokesman.
In general, "if there's not enough evidence for the locality to charge him, I don't know how the Navy would have been able to, but it depends on the situation," Lt. Speaks said.
The Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff's Department is aware of Rivera's arrest in the District, an official told The Times on Monday.
Rivera told police in Augusta he committed rapes in several locations, and investigators are following up on those admissions but they have not yet confirmed those crimes, said Investigator Richard Roundtree with the Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff's Department.
At this point, authorities do not believe Rivera committed murders elsewhere.
"We have no information or evidence that he's committed other slayings and homicides outside the area," Investigator Roundtree said.
A source in Augusta familiar with the case told The Times last week that Rivera who reportedly lived in Beltsville and College Park while working for the Joint Chiefs is suspected of assaults and rapes of prostitutes in the D.C. area, rather than homicides.
That theory matches what D.C. police have found so far.
Rivera's 1989 attack took place at about 2 a.m. in the 200 block of 14th Street SW.
"Based upon the time and location, it was probably a prostitute," a D.C. law enforcement source told The Times. "We cannot be sure until we see the case file."
Because the attack on the woman is 11 years old, detectives have had to retrieve case files from archives, which will take several days.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said officials there do not know why the charge against Rivera was dropped. They also have ordered the file from archives.
The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service has joined the investigation into Rivera's past, which is routine, said a spokesman, who would not provide details of the probe.
In general, NCIS agents around the nation and world conduct interviews on behalf of local authorities who lack the manpower or funds to travel to all the locations where a member of the Navy served.
Police in Georgia and South Carolina continue to investigate Rivera, who faces the death penalty for the murder of an Army sergeant. He is awaiting trial for that homicide and the other slaying cases.
Several dozen law enforcement agencies have contacted police in Richmond County and nearby jurisdictions about Rivera and his possible involvement in other cases, Inspector Roundtree said.
As The Times first reported last week, FBI profilers are examining the details of the slayings of the four Augusta area women who were beaten, raped, strangled, then stabbed to death from July 1999 to this month. The bodies were left in wooded areas or inside the victims' homes.
FBI profilers, officially called behavioral scientists, are using the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (Vicap) at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., to study the case.
Vicap, a computer database with records of thousands of violent crimes, cross-references details from different cases in an attempt to find a match.
FBI officials with the behavioral-assessment unit and child abduction-serial killer unit are using Vicap to find any connections between the Georgia slayings and the D.C. attack.
Detectives on the Maryland State Police's "cold case" squad will examine unsolved cases from the time Rivera lived in the area to see if they have any details linking them to the more recent killings.
Rivera was arrested at a hotel in Aiken County, S.C. just over the border from Augusta on Oct. 12, two days after a woman who was raped, beaten and stabbed gave police her attacker's description.
The next day, the Richmond County Sheriff's Department charged him in connection with three other slayings. On Oct. 14, police charged him in the slaying of a fourth woman.
Augusta-Richmond County Attorney Danny Craig filed notice last week that he intends to seek the death penalty against Rivera in the slaying of an Army sergeant at Fort Gordon in the Augusta area on Sept. 4.

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