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Philadelphia Daily News
Thursday, December 13, 2001

Center City Rapist's DNA charged with 6 attacks


The Center City Rapist's first victim talked him out of raping her after he broke into her apartment in the dead of night.

Another woman woke in the middle of the night and discovered she'd been sexually assaulted while asleep.

His sixth victim was forced to perform oral sex on him with a pillowcase over her head.

Police recovered DNA evidence from all these crime scenes - strands of hair from the first one and semen from the two others - as well as from the man's three other victims in Philadelphia.

Yesterday, District Attorney Lynne Abraham charged the DNA of the unknown fugitive with the five rapes, which took place from June 1997 through August 1999, as well as the murder of Wharton School student Shannon Schieber on May 7, 1998.

But Abraham doesn't think those victims were his only prey in Philadelphia.

"I do not believe these are the only five rapes this person committed in Philadelphia," said Abraham, who released new details of the six cases in the probable-cause affidavit attached to the arrest warrant for this John Doe's DNA.

"I believe there are many more," she said. "It may be that there was not enough DNA evidence left. It may be that women were too frightened . . .horrified, or otherwise to report it."

The statute of limitations for rape in Pennsylvania is five years, which the Legislature may extend to 12 years later this month, Abraham said.

But charging the Center City Rapist's DNA ensures he will be brought to justice no matter how long it takes, she said.

Vicki Schieber, Shannon's mother, applauded Abraham's actions.

"We are very, very happy," she said. "I'm certain for those victims it's a very important step. We don't want him to get away with anything."

In September, police here used DNA evidence to link the Center City Rapist to six sexual assaults in Fort Collins, Colo., last summer.

Rita Davis, spokeswoman for the Fort Collins Police Department, said there was no statute of limitations in Colorado for rape cases in which there is DNA evidence.

Abraham said she thinks the Center City Rapist has left the Fort Collins area, but Davis said police there aren't sure.

"If you take a look at his pattern here and in Philadelphia, he tends to strike only in the warm weather months," she said. "So he may be lying dormant in the Fort Collins area or somewhere in Colorado and may reoffend as the weather warms up. We want people to continue to be vigilant with their personal safety."

After police made the connection between the Philadelphia and Fort Collins crimes, Elena DiLapi, director of the Penn Women's Center at the University of Pennsylvania, got an idea.

She sent out an e-mail detailing the sexual assaults to 400 women's crisis centers and college campuses around the country.

"We wanted women to know so they could protect themselves," she said yesterday. "And it's very likely a woman would go to a women's center before she would go to the police." *

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