DC grand jury uses DNA profile to indict unknown serial hotel rapist

WASHINGTON — D.C. police announced Tuesday morning that a grand jury has indicted the DNA profile of an unknown serial rapist who attacked at least six women in area hotels between 1998 and 2006.

It is the first time that a “John Doe” DNA profile has been indicted in D.C.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, speaking at a news conference with a number of local and federal law enforcement officials, said the “John Doe” indictment came because the District has a 15-year statute of limitations for sexual assault cases. The first assault in the area, officials said, took place in a hotel room in Arlington, Virginia, in 1998. The first assault in D.C. came in May, 2003.

Neither Maryland nor Virginia has the same statute of limitations on sexual assault cases. The District’s indictment came May 1.

Jessie Liu, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, along with representatives for the FBI and local police departments in Maryland and Virginia joined Newsham at the news conference.

“This means the offender will not escape justice due to the passage of time,” Liu said, explaining that the indictment will allow the suspect’s prosecution when he is found, even if it is many years in the future.

In addition to the six assaults linked to the same offender via DNA evidence, the suspect may also have been involved in five other suspicious events at area hotels.

Newsham also revealed an age-progressed image of the suspect, solely based on his DNA profile, created by a lab in Reston, Virginia. The suspect is a 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-10 African-American man, with a medium-to-stocky build, who was between 30 and 40 years old when he carried out the attacks on housekeepers who worked at local hotels, authorities said.

Prince George’s County Chief of Police Hank Stawinski said up to $45,000 in reward money is available for anyone who provides information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

The officials also released a sketch made based on the description provided by a victim over 10 years ago, along with images of a box cutter and ring recovered by investigators. The ring was pulled off the suspect’s finger by a victim.

The box cutter is orange with the name “Debbie” written on it in black ink. It was used in a 2002 incident in Silver Spring, Maryland. The ring came from an assault in May, 2003, at the Renaissance Hotel on Ninth Street in Northwest D.C. The items can be seen at fbi.gov and will also be displayed on digital billboards in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Thomas Manger, Montgomery County’s Chief of Police, said his department has used images created by Parabon NanoLabs in Reston as an investigative tool in the past. “We felt strongly that this could be a great tool to generate new investigative leads and help solve these horrific crimes,” he said in a news release.

Anyone with information about the items or the assaults is asked to call 202-727-9099, text to 50411 or report their information to the FBI at tips.fbi.com.

Matthew DeSarno, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office said open communication with the public is helpful in ruling out anyone not connected with the case, but also, “your assistance could be the small piece of the puzzle we need to solve this case.”

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