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Cold Case: DNA Links Potomac River Rapist To 1996 Sexual Assault

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Credit: Federal Bureau Of Investigation

Credit: Federal Bureau Of Investigation

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A 1996 sexual assault has been linked through DNA to the same man believed responsible for nine other attacks on women in the District of Columbia and Maryland, police and the FBI said Thursday.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said authorities made the connection when they recently retested a DNA sample collected after the 1996 attack, which occurred when a women walking at night in a well-to-do upper northwest Washington neighborhood was pulled off the sidewalk, dragged into the woods and sexually assaulted.

The assault took place less than two miles from the last known attack authorities have linked to the man — the Aug. 1, 1998 murder of Christine Mirzayan. The 28-year-old biochemist was raped and bludgeoned to death with a heavy rock while walking home in Georgetown from a friend’s cookout.

“The investigation has led us to believe that the individual may have ties to the area,” Lanier said at a news conference on the same block where the July 20, 1996, attack occurred.

John Walsh, longtime television host of America’s Most Wanted, was also on hand to announce the latest revelation in the case.

The FBI in December announced a $25,000 reward and launched a publicity campaign aimed at drumming up tips and leads on the suspect, who police had already linked either through DNA or other analysis to nine attacks between 1991 and 1998. The two D.C. attacks occurred outside on a Saturday night, but all of the Montgomery County sexual assaults occurred inside a home or private residence.

Police said the man often stalked his victims in advance, threw a towel or blanket over their head at the start of the attack and overpowered them with his strength and athleticism.

Authorities have said the victims ranged in age from 18 — a teenage babysitter — to women in their 40s.

But because it’s been 14 years since an attack, authorities have said they’re not positive if the suspect is still in the area or even still alive.

“We’re not sure why it’s been so long since we’ve had anything (else),” said Lt. Robert Alder of the D.C. police department’s homicide branch.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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