Between 1987 and 1991, there was a serial rapist terrorizing the Silver Spring area of Montgomery County, Maryland. The crimes went unsolved until April 2005, when old evidence was tested for DNA and it matched with a suspect. That person has subsequently been convicted of a number of related charges.
The below story and link (which includes more information) details how some crimes committed as much as 32 years ago in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland were solved. What other crimes did he committ in those years?
After 32 Years, Clothing Yields a DNA Key to Dozens of Rapes
By JULIA PRESTON
Published: April 27, 2005
New York Times
Kevin White was arrested on Jan. 31 in a string of sexual assaults and robberies on the Upper East Side after being identified by victims in a police lineup.
A forgotten piece of evidence in a rape case from more than 30 years ago - a pair of women's underpants - has led to the DNA identification of a suspect in at least 24 other rapes and sexual assaults stretching from New York to Maryland, the authorities said yesterday.
The DNA matches have linked the man to a notorious series of unsolved rapes that terrorized Montgomery County in Maryland and drew comparisons with the rampage of the Boston Strangler. Manhattan authorities said the Maryland cases might be only the beginning, as other states run the suspect's samples through their own DNA databanks.
The man, identified by his lawyer as Fletcher Anderson Worrell, 58, was located in an Atlanta suburb late last year after he tried to buy a shotgun. The background check turned up two arrest warrants for him in New York City.
The warrants were issued after Mr. Worrell - also known as Clarence Williams - jumped bail in 1978 and vanished as he was facing retrials in two rape cases in New York.
Manhattan prosecutors said yesterday that as they were preparing to extradite Mr. Worrell from Georgia last fall, they looked in his old file. There, tucked away for 32 long years in a legal folder, they found one victim's underwear.
Using DNA technology that was barely imagined at the time of the crimes, the prosecutors said they conclusively linked Mr. Worrell to one of the rapes.
"It ought to send a chill through a lot of defendants to know that after 32 years you can still test for DNA," Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, said yesterday as he announced the breakthrough in the case.
But the discoveries did not stop there. The old DNA sample, and a fresh one from Mr. Worrell, were processed through a national DNA data bank compiled beginning in 1990. The samples linked Mr. Worrell to nine unsolved sexual assaults in Maryland and two in New Jersey, the prosecutors said.
Authorities in Maryland said they now believe that Mr. Williams is the man they called the Silver Spring rapist, who committed the nine assaults and at least 12 others between 1987 and 1991.
Paul Kalleberg, the deputy chief of the prosecutor's office in Morris County, New Jersey, confirmed yesterday that Mr. Worrell was now "potentially a prime suspect" in two unsolved 1993 sexual assault cases there.
Douglas F. Gansler, the Montgomery County state's attorney, recalled the "great concern, paralysis and fear" generated by the Silver Spring rapes years ago. "When you say 'Silver Spring rapist' around here, it's like saying 'Green River killer' or 'Boston Strangler' in other places," he said.
In the 1970's, Mr. Worrell was tried in two rapes, one in Manhattan and one in Queens. In the Manhattan case, a 25-year-old woman was raped on June 26, 1973, by a man who climbed at dawn through the window of her apartment in Chelsea. Cut marks on her neck showed that he had held a knife to her throat. Neighbors heard her scream.
The police, summoned by the neighbors, chased Mr. Worrell from the victim's building and arrested him. But the prosecutors lacked evidence, and the trial, in November 1975, resulted in a hung jury.
While he was out on bail during the Manhattan trial, he tried to rape a woman in Queens and she was shot during the attack, Mr. Morgenthau said yesterday. Mr. Worrell was convicted in 1975 of attempted murder and attempted rape. But the conviction was reversed on appeal because part of Mr. Worrell's statement to the police had been improperly admitted, the district attorney said.
Mr. Worrell had entered a guilty plea in the Manhattan rape after his conviction in Queens. But he later withdrew that plea after the Queens verdict collapsed. Released on bail in 1978, he dropped out of sight, Mr. Morgenthau said.
Michael F. Rubin, a lawyer who is representing Mr. Worrell in the New York rape cases, said, "My client has always maintained his innocence." Mr. Rubin said he learned only yesterday of the Silver Spring allegations.
Mr. Rubin said his client, who taught himself Arabic and took the Muslim name Umar Abdul Hakeem, had never tried to hide from the authorities. For a decade after 1993, Mr. Worrell worked in Cairo as a translator, Mr. Rubin said.
He had opened bank accounts and utilities contracts under the name Anderson Worrell in Atlanta, where he was living when he was arrested, Mr. Rubin said. "He was a well-respected member of the Muslim community," the lawyer said. "This is not fugitive behavior."
Mr. Rubin said Mr. Worrell had been arrested once since he left New York, on a 1977 burglary charge in Washington.
He was committed to a psychiatric hospital after it was determined that he was not competent to stand trial because of a personality disorder, the lawyer said.
Mr. Rubin said that Mr. Worrell, who is divorced and has two grown children, tried to buy a shotgun in DeKalb County in Georgia by presenting his given name and Social Security number.
"He did not ever believe that he was the subject of those New York warrants," Mr. Rubin said.
Mr. Morgenthau said the victim of the Manhattan rape, who no longer lives in New York, is still available to testify in a new trial.
The victim, when told of the DNA matches identifying the man she knew as Clarence Williams, "was, number one, upset, but I think she was also extremely grateful," Mr. Morgenthau said.
Mr. Worrell was taken to New York in October 2004 and is currently being held without bail on Rikers Island. He heard of the new evidence against him in State Supreme Court in Manhattan yesterday. At the hearing, prosecutors requested court authorization to take new DNA samples from Mr. Worrell, Mr. Rubin said.
Lt. Philip Raum, of the Police Department in Montgomery County, who was one of the two chief investigators of the Silver Spring rapes, said yesterday that at least nine assaults had been linked through DNA to Mr. Worrell, known there as Clarence Williams. The Silver Spring cases involve 21 unsolved assaults and attempted assaults.
In a telephone interview, Lieutenant Raum said he had called the victims, and five had readily agreed to testify at a trial. He said Montgomery County police would issue a search warrant to obtain more DNA from Mr. Worrell in a few days.
He said officers had located two addresses in Silver Spring and another in Washington where Mr. Worrell lived.
From 1987, when the rapes began, to 1991, when they stopped, dozens of investigators were on the trail of the Silver Spring rapist, who broke in to single-family homes and apartments at night and assaulted women.
"We felt confident that this guy would make a mistake and we would get him," Lieutenant Raum said. "Too bad it wasn't 14 years ago."
Elizabeth Olson contributed reporting from Maryland for this article.
New York Times
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