Real Name: Unknown
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Rape, Robbery
Missing Since: January 1990
Details: Police in Boston, Massachusetts are searching for a man who has struck several strip malls in the area, robbing employees and raping some of the women there. He has been referred to as the "Strip Mall Rapist". The first known case occurred at a small downtown Boston store at 4pm on December 16, 1989. He sexually assaulted an employee of the store. Another attack occurred a few weeks later on Christmas Eve, December 24. In the late afternoon, shortly before closing time, the assailant walked into a medical clinic in a mall in Braintree, twenty miles south of Boston. While talking to a nurse at the front desk, his beeper went off. He excused himself to use a nearby phone. Shortly afterwards, he went behind the reception area and asked where he could throw away a piece of trash. He then placed a gun to her back. He told her to "not get excited" and cooperate with him. He also said that he was not afraid to use the gun on her.
Because it was Christmas Eve, the clinic was nearly deserted and there were only three employees there. The assailant herded them into one room. He forced a female lab technician to tape the hands of the doctor and the nurse behind their backs. Leaving the nurse behind, he placed the doctor in one room and took the lab technician to the office cash box, where he forced her to give him $1600 from it. Next, he took her into an examining room where he forced her to take off her clothes. He then brutally raped her.
Three days later, on December 27, the assailant struck again at a women's clothing store along Route 9 in a Framingham shopping mall; the location was similar to the previous one. That morning, he entered the store, asking an eighteen-year-old employee, "Julie", about gift certificates. He claimed that he was looking for something for his girlfriend. He asked the manager, "Tracy", to come over and help them. She had a creepy feeling about him, but was not too concerned. She hoped to help him and get him out of the store as soon as possible. When she got near him, she started picking up outfits for them to look at. As she turned to the clothing rack, he pulled out a gun and stuck it in her back.
He asked for their names and then called Julie over. He told her that he had a .357 pointed at Tracy's back and would shoot her if they did not cooperate. He forced them to the back of the store, telling them not to look at him along the way. He struck them in the head with the gun when they tried to look at him. Once in the back, he demanded money from the safe and made Tracy put it in a brown paper bag. He then told Julie to slowly lay face down on the floor, which she did. He told her to stay there while he took Tracy to the bathroom. He demanded that she take off her clothes and stay in the bathroom.
Next, he forced Julie to lock the front doors of the store. After that, he took her at gunpoint to one of the dressing rooms. He forced her to undress and kick her clothes out of the dressing room. He then had her go into the office. He placed the gun to the back of her head and then raped her. Tracy felt bad because she was unable to help Julie. She knew that he was making her cry, but did not know what exactly was happening. After raping Julie, he went to the bathroom and raped Tracy as well. Along with the money from the safe, he also took their wallets. He left the store at around 10:30am. No witnesses observed his departure. After the attack, the victims escaped out the back door and went to a nearby house to call for help.
Investigators were able to link the assailant to nine different robberies, all within different towns in the greater Boston area. Tragically, five women were raped during those robberies. The last known attack occurred at a mall in Norwood on January 16, 1990. At 1pm, the assailant ordered a female store employee into a back room where he raped her. He may have also robbed a store in Braintree on January 27. A joint task force was set up, involving officers from eight different police forces. They found significant similarities between all of the cases. As a result, they are convinced that the same man is responsible for all nine incidents. They believe that the assailant is professional, as he conducts surveillance of his targets and picks them very carefully. He stays close to major highways and strikes mainly at strip-type malls with numerous stores. The stores usually have one main entrance, making it easier for him to escape. He appears to be targeting younger females in stores that have only one or two employees working.
Sadly, his victims have been extremely traumatized as a result of the rapes; some still have nightmares about their attacks and have trouble sleeping as a result. They hope that someone will be able to identify him. He is described as in his mid-thirties (in 1989), 5'11", and weighing over 200 pounds with a pot belly. His hair has been described as reddish-brown or black; it is possible that he dyes it or wears a wig. He has no visible marks or tattoos. He sometimes wears glasses and a mustache, but no jewelry. He is always very clean and may use Obsession cologne for men. He seems to be intelligent, articulate, and calm. He does not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He has specialized knowledge about electronic gadgets and the retail clothing industry. Police believe he tries to look as average and un-threatening as possible, so that he can easily blend in within a crowd.
If a suspect is arrested, police will be able to make a positive identification through DNA testing. They are asking for leads and tips to help catch this dangerous rapist.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 2, 1990 episode. Another criminal rapist featured on Unsolved Mysteries was the Original Night Stalker.
The original airing of the case showed a different composite than the one shown above. This segment was excluded from Amazon Prime episodes.
Results: Wanted. Viewers' tips led to a local veterinarian as a suspect in the rapes. However, he cooperated with police and was cleared through DNA testing. The attacks ceased after the broadcast. Police suspected that the rapist may have been arrested on other charges or left the area to avoid capture.
In March 2021, Julie and Tracy asked police to re-open their cases, hoping that new technology could help identify their assailant. They were told that his DNA was uploaded to CODIS, but no matches were ever made. In July, the Middlesex County DA's office announced that they were going to re-open the cases and try to use new technology, such as genetic genealogy, to help identify the assailant.
Some sources stated that the statute of limitations ran out in this case in 2004. However, the new developments seem to suggest that the cases can still be prosecuted.
- 6 police forces join hunt for robber-rapist (Page 1) (Page 2) - January 17, 1990
- Police see similarities in rapes, robberies - February 2, 1990
- Police hoping TV turns up identity of rapist-robber (Page 1) (Page 2) - April 1, 1990
- Massachusetts rape survivors plead for 1980s cases to be reopened - April 30, 2021
- Massachusetts DA pledges new look at decades old Framingham rape case - July 8, 2021
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of the Boston Rapist (includes articles about case)
- Massachusetts Criminal Statutes of Limitations