For eight years in the 1990s, the “Potomac River Rapist” terrorized Washington D.C. and surrounding communities in Maryland as he assaulted women in “blitz” style attacks, killing one woman and leaving her dead body yards from the freeway.
But on Wednesday, authorities arrested the man they believe is responsible for those crimes –– including eight rapes, one attempted sexual assault and a murder –– in South Carolina after comparing genetic samples found at the crime scene to DNA submitted by relatives to a database to explore their family lineage.
Giles Daniel Warrick, 60, is now facing charges of first-degree murder and two counts of first degree sexual abuse in connection with the string of sexual assaults, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Warrick’s alleged crime spree began on May 6, 1991 when authorities say he sexually assaulted a 32-year-old woman in her Gaithersburg, Md. home as she was returning from a business trip. In the years that followed, police say the same rapist went on to target multiple women in the surrounding area, including a teenage babysitter and a housekeeper.
“Most of the assaults followed a particular pattern,” said a 2011 statement from the FBI about the attacks. “The assailant used a ‘blitz’ attack by throwing a blanket or towel over the victim’s head. All of the sexual assault victims, except for the murder, were attacked in their homes or private residences.”
Most of the attacks—though not the murder—also took place on weekday evenings, the FBI reported at the time.
In one instance, a 58-year-old woman was attacked and sexually assaulted while she was walking through a Washington D.C. neighborhood, police said.
Then on Aug.1, 1998, 29-year-old Christine Mirzayan was walking home from a barbecue to her student apartment at Georgetown University when she was abducted and dragged into the woods, the local paper reports. She was sexually assaulted and then repeatedly struck with a large rock, killing her.
Her body was left yards from the Whitehurst Freeway, the FBI said.
Investigators would link eight of the the cases together through DNA evidence in 2011, but investigators had no suspect matching the assailant's genetic profile.
Sgt. Chris Homrock, head of the Montgomery cold case unit said Thursday that detectives eventually submitted the genetic profile to Parabon Nanolabs. The company was able to identify five possible suspects after using familial DNA found in a large database.
Investigators were able to refine the list by focusing on anyone who may have been in the Washington D.C. area at the time and focused in on Warrick.
After questioning him in South Carolina, investigators collected his DNA and allegedly were able to successfully match it to the samples left behind at the crime scenes, the local paper reports.
“This was truly the definition of a team effort,” Homrock said.
Warrick is being held at the Reuben Long Detention Center in South Carolina, while he waits extradition, The State reports
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