As police search for suspect, DNA profile of “D.C.-area hotel rapist” indicted in the District for 2003 cases

WASHINGTON, D.C. - For the first time ever, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District secured an indictment of a DNA profile for an unknown suspect.

The charges stem from two attacks that took place in Northwest D.C. hotels back in 2003, involving a man dubbed the "D.C.-area hotel rapist."

(L) Composite sketch created in '03
(R) Age-compressed composite sketch using DNA profile
Photo credit: FBI Washington Field Office

The DNA is also linked to four other attacks in Maryland and Virginia in the 1998-2006 time frame, as well as possibly connected to sexual assault cases and suspicious behavior at five other local hotels.

"Our effort, the main reason we're here today, is to bring closure to the victims," said Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno, who joined the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C., as well as local police, for a press conference on Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, in the vast majority of these cases, hotel housekeepers were victimized. The assailant would enter hotel rooms by stealth and rape housekeepers as they cleaned rooms.

Photo credit: FBI Washington Field Office

In several of the incidents, the suspect used a box cutter, a necktie, or a cord to threaten and harm his victims.

The D.C.-Area Hotel Rapist is described as an African-American male, between 5’7”-5’10” tall, with a medium to stocky build, brown eyes, black hair, and a medium to dark complexion.

At the time of the assaults, he was believed to be in his 20's to 30's. Since time has progressed, he is believed to be in his late 30's to late 40's.

Since the assaults, a composite sketch was developed based on witness accounts, as well as an age-progressed composite sketch, created by Parabon NanoLabs which used DNA that was left behind by the offender to create the image.

This type of DNA testing uses DNA to produce a detailed report and composite sketch of the potential suspect that includes eye color, skin color, hair color, face morphology, and detailed biogeographic ancestry with age progression, according to a release sent out by the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C.

The FBI and local law enforcement are asking for the public’s help to solve this cold case.

Below are the dates and locations of the assaults linked by DNA:

  • 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 Washington, 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 Washington, 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 Washington, D.C. The offender bound the victim’s hands with a necktie during the assault.
  • Friday, June 6, 2003, at approximately 10:00 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.

Below are other cases that may be related:

  • Saturday, August 22, 1998, at approximately 12:05 p.m. A 30-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted in a hotel room at the Quality Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Wednesday, May 28, 2003, at approximately 10:30 a.m. A suspicious person was observed at a Hyatt Hotel on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia.
  • Wednesday, May 28, 2003, at approximately 10:45 a.m. A suspicious person was observed in the Marriott Courtyard Hotel on Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia approximately 15 minutes after the Hyatt Hotel incident (0.2 miles away).
  • Monday, June 9, 2003, at approximately 12:13 p.m. A suspicious person was observed at a Residence Inn Hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. The suspect was questioned by an employee and exited the hotel 10 minutes later. This activity occurred 15 minutes prior to the DNA-linked attack at the Marriott Courtyard (0.1 mile away).
  • Friday, June 13, 2003, at approximately 11:00 a.m. A suspicious person was observed trying to open doors on various floors at the Marriott Hotel on Russell Avenue in Gaithersburg, Maryland, then hastily fleeing The individual was observed leaving the scene in a black Nissan Sentra.
  • Friday, June 13, 2003, at approximately 12:10 p.m. Two housekeepers reported that they observed a suspicious person at the Sheraton Baltimore Washington Airport Hotel in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. The housekeepers stated that the individual resembled the suspect who was portrayed in a flyer circulated by the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.
  • Sunday, February 13, 2005, at approximately 11:27 a.m. A 34-year-old woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint in a hotel room at the Quality Inn Hotel on New Hampshire Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland.
  • Monday, February 6, 2006, at approximately 3:40 p.m. A 28-year-old female housekeeper was sexually assaulted at knifepoint in a hotel room at the Red Roof Inn on Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Virginia.

The DNA evidence from the linked assaults can either positively identify or exclude a suspect, according to police. This allows investigators to quickly exclude innocent parties, and the public should not hesitate to come forward with information—even if it is the name or address of an individual who resided in the areas of the crimes.

Many parties will be quickly excluded by a simple, non-invasive test.

A combined reward of up to $45,000 is being offered by the FBI, Metropolitan Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Prince George’s Police Department, Greenbelt Police Department, and Arlington County Police Department for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the unknown suspect.

A detailed map, related story and images are available on the FBI’s website.

Law enforcement agencies are asking anyone with information to contact the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099, text the MPD Text Tip Line at 50411, or submit a tip with the FBI at tips.fbi.gov. All tips can remain anonymous.