Potomac River Rapist linked to another case

A sketch of the Potomac River Rapist (Photo: FBI)

No one knows his real name, but for more than a decade, police have called him the Potomac River rapist.

Police went door to door Thursday—even talking to neighbors trying to jog their memories about a crime they say he committed in the area nearly 16 years ago.

“He is connected to this area the McArthur Blvd area. And so we are hoping…that somebody will remember him from back in '96,” said Todd Williams of MPD.

It was July of 1996, a man grabbed a woman walking along McArthur Boulevard, dragged her into the woods and raped her. And now using DNA evidence from that case police have linked this crime to six other sexual assaults, including the rape and murder of Christine Mirzayan off Canal Road.

“No matter how safe you think you are or good you think things are you still have to have a certain amount of awareness,” said resident Josephine Baker.

Some longtime residents say they clearly remember seeing a suspicious man in the neighborhood around the same time.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier says DNA evidence from a 16-year-old rape in northwest Washington was recently re-tested and found to match nine other attacks, including a murder.

The newly announced assault occurred on July 20, 1996 in the 4900 block of MacArthur Boulevard, NW.

"We are asking for the public's help in identifying and locating this violent offender who is responsible for numerous brutal attacks," Lanier said in a statement.

Anna-Stina Ericson remembers the newly uncovered sexual assault. She recalls that July night back in 1996 when police say a stranger grabbed a woman as she walked along Macarthur Boulevard, dragged her into the woods near what is now a camp for kids and raped her. It was a crime that changed residents’ habits.

"We were all shocked because it is rarity to have anybody attacked in the neighborhood," Ericson says.

With another case added to the list of violence and more media attention, there's renewed hope the Potomac River Rapist will finally be brought to justice.

Authorities say that between May 6, 1991 and Aug. 1, 1998, the Potomac River Rapist sexually assaulted eight women, murdered one and attempted another sexual assault. The final attack was the 1998 murder of Mirzayan, who was bludgeoned to death as she was walking home in Georgetown.

Date Location May 6, 1991 Gaithersburg, Md. Sept. 5, 1991 Germantown, Md. Nov. 21, 1991 Bethesda, Md. Dec. 11, 1991 North Potomac, Md. Jan. 24, 1992 North Potomac, Md. March 8, 1994 Rockville, Md. Feb. 26, 1997 Rockville, Md. Nov. 14, 1997 Silver Spring, Md. Aug. 1, 1998 Washington, D.C.

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