DNA Links Hotel Rapist to Attacks in DC, Maryland, Virginia

D.C. prosecutors don't know the rapist's name, but they were able to secure an indictment using his DNA

What to Know

  • The FBI says they now know more than ever about the man who raped five hotel housekeepers in the D.C. area in 2002 and 2003.
  • Authorities used DNA to create an age-progressed composite sketch of the man.
  • D.C. prosecutors were able to use the rapist's DNA to secure an indictment before the end of the 15-year statute of limitations.

The FBI says DNA evidence proves that a single man raped five housekeepers at D.C.-area hotels more than 15 years ago — and they need help from the public to find him.

DNA evidence definitively linked the man to six violent attacks, and he is suspected in three similar attacks dating back to 1998. An age-progressed composite sketch based on the man's DNA shows how officials believe he looks.

Although federal and local officials do not yet know the name of the attacker, the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C. used DNA evidence to secure an indictment on May 1 related to attacks in D.C. hotels in 2003. This marks the first time D.C. prosecutors have indicted a DNA profile. D.C. has a 15-year statute of limitations for sexual abuse, and the charges in the two attacks in D.C. were about to expire.

The "D.C.-area hotel rapist" is an African-American man who stands between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10 and has a medium to stocky build, D.C. prosecutors said. He has black hair, brown eyes and a medium to dark complexion. He is now in his late 30s to late 40s.

The rapist left behind this red box cutter with "Debbie" scrolled on it after he attacked a hotel housekeeper in Silver Spring, Maryland, in December 2002, the FBI says.

He preyed on women as young as 18 and old as 68 in Northwest D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Greenbelt, Maryland. In the majority of the cases, the rapist entered hotel rooms and attacked women working as housekeepers.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu said officials hope the DNA evidence, sketch and indictment can finally bring the cold case to a close.

“Working with the public and our law enforcement partners, we are hopeful that we finally will be able to hold this serial rapist accountable for his brazen crimes," Liu said in a statement. "DNA evidence has enabled us to push this case forward and we are hopeful that this DNA profile, and the community, can help us finally achieve justice. Despite the passage of time, we have never forgotten these victims."

The FBI provided photos of a gold ring and a box cutter the rapist left behind.

The rapist left behind this ring after he attacked a hotel housekeeper in D.C. in May 2003, the FBI says.

D.C. prosecutors say the following attacks in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been linked to the same man: 

  • Sunday, May 26, 2002, at approximately 6:50 a.m. An 18-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in the offender’s vehicle on the 4000 block of Penwood Street in Hyattsville, Maryland, after having been picked up from the 3400 block of Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast D.C. The vehicle was described as a small black four-door car, unknown make and model.
  • Sunday, December 1, 2002, at approximately 2:30 p.m. A 31-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted in a hotel room at the Hilton Hotel on Colesville Road in Silver Spring, Maryland. During the assault, the offender brandished a red-handled box cutter, which was recovered on the scene. The box cutter had the name Debbie handwritten on it.
  • Sunday, May 11, 2003, at approximately 3:15 p.m. A 27-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted in a hotel room at the Renaissance Hotel on 9th Street in Northwest D.C. The offender’s ring came off during the assault and was recovered on the scene.
  • Friday, May 23, 2003, at approximately 10:30 a.m. A 68-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted in a hotel room at the Jefferson Hotel on 16th Street in Northwest D.C. The offender bound the victim’s hands with a necktie during the assault.
  • Friday, June 6, 2003, at approximately 10 a.m. A 29-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted in a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Hotel on Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington, Virginia. The offender brandished a cord during the assault.
  • Monday, June 9, 2003, at approximately 12:28 p.m. A 22-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted in a hotel room at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel on Golden Triangle Drive in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Thirty D.C.-area hotels with unionized staffs have something new for workers: panic buttons.

Working alone in empty rooms, hotel housekeepers often face sexual assaults and harassment. Last year, 30 hotels in the D.C. area with unionized staffs provided workers with panic buttons.

The attacker should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information for law enforcement is asked to call D.C. police at 202-727-9099. Tips can be sent anonymously to 50411. A combined reward of as much as $45,000 is offered by the FBI and local police departments.

“If you recognize this person, if this box cutter or ring are familiar, if you have seen these items before, we need you to call law enforcement and provide the information," FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno said in a statement. "The public's assistance is vital in solving this case.”

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

Montgomery County police are hoping to find a rape suspect through science. The department hired a technology company to create a sketch of the suspect using the suspect's DNA. News4's Chris Gordon reports.
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