CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A Conway man who is suspected to be the “Potomac River Rapist” has been arrested after almost 30 years of hiding.
Giles Warrick, 60, of Conway, is suspected in a series of at least 10 rapes committed by the unknown “Potomac River Rapist” in the 1990s, including one death.
“Between 1991 and 1998, a man terrorized our community as he brutally preyed upon and attacked multiple women across this region,” Chief Pete Newsham, Metropolitan Police Department, said on Thursday afternoon. “The suspect in this case attacked at least 10 women in and around Washington, D.C. His last known victim in Washington, D.C. was a 29-year-old Congressional fellow who was murdered.”
Authorities say they identified Warrick through forensic genealogy – from DNA companies that track down family members, the sites that let a user research their ancestry. Police said they were able to make the arrest from matches in those databases of family members.
“Forensic evidence linked the man to these crimes and was instrumental in leading detectives to his location in Conway, South Carolina where he was placed under arrest,” Chief Newsham said.
Montgomery County Police Department Detective Todd Williams said on the FBI’s website that the suspect began stalking, hunting and sexually assaulting women over 20 years ago. Seven of the nine attacks were linked by DNA while all the attacks are linked by similarities in the violent methods.
Victims were attacked in their homes and included an 18-year-old babysitter and a mother whose infant was in the house at the time of the attack, the FBI said.
One of the rapist’s notable victims includes Christine Mirzayan, who was 29 years old in 1998 when she was raped and killed sometime after she began walking home in Washington, DC. The FBI says her killer had previously attacked eight other women from 1991.
“A lot of these cases where people unnecessarily lose their lives, when we have victims of sexual assault and the repercussions and the trauma that they suffer associated with that, that sticks with police officers and detectives for a really long time,” Chief Newsham said. “There is a certain degree of satisfaction to be able to locate the person that’s responsible for stuff that’s particularly heinous but in the same token, is after that moment of satisfaction, you kind of reflect back on the victims and the impact this must have had on them so bittersweet I guess is the best way to describe it.”
Warrick had been living at a home in Conway, according to online public records. Law enforcement indicated during a news conference on Thursday afternoon that Warrich had not lived in South Carolina for very long.
News13 reporter Elisia Alonso knocked on the door of the home Thursday, but no one answered.
Neighbors told her that Warrick mostly kept to himself, and that they didn’t see much of him. One neighbor, who didn’t want to go on-camera, said Warrick would sometimes go four-wheeling with the neighbor’s nephew.
According to officials at J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Warrick was denied bond Thursday morning. Mikayla Moskov, public information officer for the Horry County Police Department, confirmed Warrick is in jail but referred questions to the Washington DC Metro Police.
Here is a timeline of incidents from the FBI website:
Incident 1: Monday, May 6, 1991, between 8-11 p.m. The 32-year-old victim was returning from a business trip when she was attacked inside her home in the Washingtonian Woods community of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Incident 2: Thursday, Sept. 5, 1991, between 10-10:30 p.m. An 18-year-old babysitter was attacked inside a home in the Watkins Meadows community of Germantown, Maryland.
Incident 3: Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991, between 9-10 p.m. A 41-year-old woman was attacked in her home near Potomac Village and the downtown area of Bethesda, Maryland.
Incident 4: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 1991, between 8:30-9 p.m. A 36-year-old woman was home in the Quince Orchard Knolls community of North Potomac, Maryland with her young children when she was attacked.
Incident 5: Friday, Jan. 24, 1992, at approximately 9 p.m. A 34-year-old live-in housekeeper was attacked at her employer’s home in the Potomac Grove community of North Potomac.
Incident 6: Tuesday, March 8, 1994, between 7-8 p.m. A 35-year-old woman was at home in the Highwood community of Rockville, Maryland with her young children when she was attacked.
Incident 7: Saturday, July 20, 1996, between 8:30 – 8:45 p.m., A 58-year-old victim was attacked while walking in the 4900 block of MacArthur Blvd, in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Incident 8: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1997, between 7-8 p.m. A 19-year-old woman was attacked in her Rockville residence in the Rock Creek Manor community when she came home from work.
Incident 9: Friday, Nov. 14, 1997, between 7:30-8 p.m. A 30-year-old woman was attacked in her Silver Spring, Maryland home near New Hampshire Avenue and Route 198 after returning from grocery shopping.
Incident 10: Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998, between 10:30-11 p.m. Christine Mirzayan, a 29-year-old intern, was attacked and murdered in the 3600 block of Canal Road while walking to her residence in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC.
Count on News13 for updates.
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