(UPDATED 5:45 p.m.) Police said Friday they are investigating whether a recent string of suspicious incidents in upper Montgomery County could be linked to sexual assaults against women in Germantown.
Montgomery County police said detectives believe a burglary and sexual assault reported in Gaithersburg on Aug. 28, 2011, a break-in and knife assault in Germantown on Sept. 2, and a peeping tom incident in Gaithersburg on Sept. 22 have similarities to earlier incidents involving rapes against older women in Germantown. They said all the incidents were against lone female victims, were carried out late in the day and occurred via access through an unlocked door or window.
Last January, a 68-year-old woman told police she was in her bed when a suspect entered her apartment and assaulted her. The same woman claimed she was raped a second time under the same circumstances on June 19, 2010, Patch has reported.
In August 2010, an 86-year-old woman reported being raped while in an assisted living complex on Father Hurley Boulevard, across the street from where the 68-year-old woman lived, police said.
News of the assaults unnerved Upcounty residents, who posted police-provided composite sketches of the suspect throughout Germantown.
During a National Night Out event in 2011, Patch reported, Pam Czarick, general manager of the Waters Landing Association, said that in the months following the attacks more lighting had been added to the common areas. She said owners of the center had made other safety upgrades as well.
During the event, Fifth District Cmd. Luther Reynolds tried to reassure residents that he and his team would find the suspect.
On Friday, Montgomery County police spokesman Paul Starks told Patch that while DNA evidence appeared to link the rapes of the 68- and 86-year-old women, police have not confirmed a DNA link to the more recent string of incidents.
In a press release, police presented the following chain of events:
- On Aug. 28, 2011, at approximately 12:45 a.m., Gaithersburg City Police officers responded to an apartment in the 900 block of Clopper Road in Gaithersburg to a report of a burglary that had just occurred. The investigation revealed that a male suspect had entered the 37-year-old female victim’s apartment through an open back bedroom window. The suspect approached the victim, forced her to perform a sexual act, and then fled the scene.
- On Sept. 2, 2012, at approximately 4:10 a.m., 5th District officers responded to the 18100 block of Metz Drive in Germantown for a report of a suspicious situation. Investigation revealed that the 50-year-old female victim was sleeping downstairs in her residence when she was awakened by a noise. She went to the front door to investigate and found a suspect inside with a knife in his hand. A struggle ensued between the victim and the suspect, and the victim was cut by the knife. The suspect then fled, and police were contacted. Police believe that the suspect may have entered the residence through an unlocked sliding glass door.
- On Sept. 22, 2012, at approximately 11:33 p.m., 6th District officers responded to the 15600 block of Marathon Circle in Gaithersburg for a report of a suspicious situation. Investigation revealed that a female resident had left her apartment and observed a male subject looking into an apartment on the first floor. When the subject saw the female, he left the area. A look out was placed for a “peeping tom” incident.
Based on the events, police are encouraging people to lock their doors and windows and to report suspicious activity. Anyone who may have information about any of these incidents or may have information from the past that may be related to any of these events or the suspect involved is asked to contact the Major Crimes Division – Homicide/Sex Section at 240-773-5070. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or enter a tip online. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for these felony crimes.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was initially published Friday to correct information regarding DNA evidence. Police said they have DNA linking the alleged rapes of a 68-year-old woman in June 2010 and July 2011, and an 86-year-old woman in August 2010. Police are investigating but have not linked DNA evidence to the more recent series of incidents reported in Germantown and Gaithersburg.