cold case

Serial Rapist Sentenced to Life in Prison in 1991 Virginia Cold Case

Law enforcement caught up with Michael Thomson in 2020 at his home in Montross, Virginia, after he’d moved away from the D.C. area. 

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After evading police for nearly 30 years, a man responsible for a series of gunpoint rapes near the East Falls Church Metro station back in 1991 was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison plus 56 years. 

Arlington County police Detective Rosa Ortiz, one of the cold case detectives who doggedly pursued the attacker, told News4 what it was like when he realized justice had finally caught up with him.

She said the suspect, Michael Thomson, now 65 years old, was "absolutely not" expecting her.

Law enforcement caught up with Thomson in 2020 at his home in Montross, Virginia, after he’d moved away from the D.C. area. 

Genetic information from a relative had finally unveiled the identity of the human nightmare who confronted women as they walked alone in the dark near the East Falls Church Metro Station in 1991. 

In each of four attacks, he pulled out a gun and then forced his victim to an unlit area.

In one case, he dropped a baseball cap while running away, after the woman screamed to passerby for help.

Northern Virginia

News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey has been covering this side of the state since joining NBC4 in 1992. She's joined by reporter Drew Wilder.

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One victim was a teenager. Another was a mother of two. 

Arlington County police Detective Rosa Ortiz helped track Thomson to Montross, about 80 miles south in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

She said when she interviewed him, he did something that confirmed he suspected his DNA would reveal him as the East Falls Church rapist.

“He was thirsty and wanted water, but he didn't want it from a can, or a glass, or a bottle,” Ortiz said. “He wanted... a water fountain. Ultimately we accommodated him.”

Ortiz was the one who had to bring up old wounds, trauma some might not want to relive, when she informed Thomson’s victims of the new lead.

She said all of them told her, “Go get him.”

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