CRIME

Potomac River Rapist search effort ramping up

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A renewed effort to track down and capture a man authorities say terrorized women in the 1990's is underway.

Police say the man in the composite was seen following a murder victim in Georgetown in 1998. (Photo: FBI)

The joint effort by D.C. Police, Montgomery County Police and the U.S. Attorney's Office will aim to catch the man commonly referred to as the Potomac River Rapist; a man they say is responsible for attacks on at least nine women between 1991 and 1998.

Authorities say that between May 6, 1991 and Aug. 1, 1998, a single assailant sexually assaulted eight women, murdered one and attempted another sexual assault. More than a decade later, the U.S. Attorney's Office says that seven of the nine cases have been linked by DNA, and the other two are linked by similarities in how the crimes were carried out.

"In law enforcement, we understand that justice delayed does not mean that justice will be denied," U.S Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. said in a statement.

All eight of the stand-alone sexual assaults took place in different areas of Montgomery County. But the murder, which took place on Aug. 1, 1998, occurred near the campus of Georgetown University.

On that night, 29-year-old Christine Mirzayan, a 29-year-old intern, was sexually assaulted, struck multiple times in the head with a rock and murdered. Her body was left near the Whitehurst Freeway.

Montgomery County Police say that they've been able to establish a link between that murder and the crimes committed in several Montgomery County cities and towns, including Gaithersburg, Germantown, Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring.

"We are committed to obtaining justice for Christine Mirzayan and the other victims of the Potomac River Rapist," Machen said.

Authorities released a composite sketch of a man they consider a person of interest in the case. They are not calling him a suspect, but they say he was a person witnessed following Mirzayan on the night she was killed.

"I can't imagine the eight victims that still remain how they feel knowing each and every day that this person is still out on the street," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

The FBI also launched a website dedicated to the search for a suspect. Police say that most of the assaults occurred in a specific fashion - the suspect would throw a blanket or towel over the victim's head and, except in the case of Mirzayan, assaulted them in their home or residence.

Authorities had previously said that they weren't sure if the suspect was still in the region, already in prison or even still alive.

A $25,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect, and billboards with a composite of the person of interest are already going up.

The large majority of the suspect's nine crimes took place in Montgomery County, with the exception of the 1998 murder. Here's a map of the Potomac River Rapist's activity:

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