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New tips in search for Potomac River Rapist

Thursday - 5/3/2012, 12:06pm  ET

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WASHINGTON - The FBI is testing DNA evidence in hopes of identifying the man they've dubbed the Potomac River Rapist.

Christine Mirzayan was raped and murdered along Canal Road in Georgetown in 1998 and the FBI says DNA links the person who killed her with eight earlier rapes in Montgomery County.

In mid-December last year, authorities launched a publicity campaign to gain more information into the case and an FBI spokeswoman says the bureau has received several good tips in the past several days and is testing the DNA of some men who voluntarily provided samples.

The bureau isn't saying why these particular men were asked to provide samples, but says the tests can be used to identify or rule out a suspect - even if the DNA is from a family member.

The suspect is thought to be connected to nine attacks between 1991 and 1998. Seven of the attacks have been linked through DNA, but authorities believe all nine are connected based on similarities in the methods and victims.

The first attack occurred on May 6, 1991, when a woman who had just returned from a business trip was accosted inside her home.

Detectives say the man, believed to be in his late 20s to late 30s at the time of the attacks, would enter the victims' homes - sometimes while children were inside - surprise the women by throwing a blanket or towel over their heads and overpower them with his strength. The victims ranged in age from 18 to 41.

Mirzayan, a 28-year-old biochemist, was attacked on Aug. 1, 1998 while walking home to a Georgetown University dormitory in Northwest Washington. She was sexually assaulted and bludgeoned with a heavy object. She is believed to be the final victim.

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The Associated Press and WTOP's Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow Neal Augenstein and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)