Fairfax County police on Tuesday announced an arrest on suspicion of rape in 1988.
Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, announced Tuesday an arrest on suspicion of rape in 1988.
George Thomas Jr., now 61, is charged with two counts of rape, one count of assault and one count of kidnapping, said Cmdr. Ed O’Carroll said this at a briefing. He is being held without bond in Montgomery County, Maryland, where he was arrested at a subway station.
In a deposition, O’Carroll said the victim had left work the night of Aug. 24, 1988, at the Skyline Mall on Leesburg Pike when two men approached and attacked her in the parking garage. They forced the woman, then 24, to a secluded spot in Northern Virginia, then led her into the woods, where the two raped her, O’Carroll said. They then forced her back into the car, forced her to drive to another location and raped her again, he said, before she fled.
“A large amount of forensic evidence was collected from the scene,” including fingerprints from the victim’s car and a description of one of the men, which led to a composite sketch, O’Carroll said.
However, no arrests have been made, even after DNA was found and searched in Virginia and national databases, he added. Despite this, “FCPD has never forgotten this case,” O’Carroll said. “We have always hoped for the development of criminology.”
However, in 2020, an “astute FCPD fingerprint expert” matched one of those fingerprints to one in an unrelated Alexandria arrest report that was on file. From there, O’Carroll said, they were able to use DNA to link Gregory Allen Thomas, George Thomas’ younger brother, to the rape. He added that both had previously been “involved by the police”.
The younger Thomas died, and George Thomas lived in Arlington, O’Carroll said. Eventually, police were able to collect a sample from what George Thomas threw away — “Maybe he smoked his last cigar,” O’Carroll said — and when they found a match, Thomas was arrested by U.S. Marshals and Metro Police. Monday.
When Fairfax County police interviewed Thomas, O’Carroll said, “He didn’t make any statements to us that he was involved, he said he had no idea what we were talking about. Allow me to disagree.”
O’Carroll said the department’s victim specialists were with the victim Tuesday “to make sure the victim is getting the appropriate help and resources.”
New and old equipment
While high-tech DNA testing helped identify the suspect, police said old-fashioned fingerprinting and sketching tools made a big difference.
Police Chief Kevin Davies acknowledged that “good police work at the scene of this crime in 1988″ paved the way for the case to be solved. O’Carroll said: “The science behind fingerprint analysis is amazing. It has improved over the decades. So we were lucky to be arrested [of George Thomas] happened”.
Dick Cline, the detective who was originally assigned to the case in 1988, said the arrest was “rewarding.”
Kline noted that just a month ago, he got a call about a similar case he’s been working on since 1989 that was solved with the new technology.
“Despite the fact that more than 30 years have passed, this is happiness. It’s a blessing from heaven that some kind of justice will finally prevail,” Kline said.
O’Carroll added that anyone with more information about this or any similar case should call them at 703-246-7800, option 8. “It’s never too late to come forward, share and report,” he said. “You will believe.”
Davis said the composite sketch of the suspect was also “creepy” in its likeness.
“This combined sketch, fingerprinting, and now, lo and behold, genetic genealogy — it won’t be long before there’s no such thing as whodunit crime in America.”