Arrest in the Serial Rapist Case

There’s been the first real break in the serial rapist case. The Hook broke the story that jibes with the information I’ve been getting over the past couple of hours. A suspect was arrested this morning. He’s married, lives in Woodbrook, and works at Harris Teeter. With a decade of consistent, solid DNA evidence in the case, it should be a snap to determine whether he’s the guy. There will be a joint city/county press conference at 4pm to provide details.

12:55pm Update: CBS 19 reports that the suspect is 40-year-old Nathan Antonio Washington of Old Brook Road. He’s been charged only in the August 2004 attack.

1:20pm Update: Regular commenter “Stormy” writes to point out that while CBS 19 names Washington in their story, they stop short of actually saying that he’s the suspect in the serial rapes. That was my inference as a reader, because it would be pretty random to name some unrelated guy in such an article. Anyhow, we’ll all have to hold onto our collective hat until 4pm to find out whether Washington’s arrest on the August 2004 rape charges is one and the same as the arrest of the serial rapist.

5:15pm Update: Well, the press conference was every bit as frustrating as police warned it would be. There’s basically no new information. They arrested Tony Washington shortly after midnight, and they’ve charged him with two of the rapes. Previously about all that police could say was that there was a DNA match on all of the rapes, but at the press conference they refused to even confirm that, saying only that Washington is a suspect in the other cases. This is going to leave media outlets torn: do they report that the serial rapist has been caught, or do they toe the cautious line drawn by law enforcement? NBC 29’s 2001 legendary gaffe — accusing some poor guy of possessing cocaine and then refusing to run a correction — surely stands out as a stark warning of what not to do.

81 Responses to “Arrest in the Serial Rapist Case”


  • wow. i really hope they got him. he’s been out there waaay too long.

  • Just hope it’s the RIGHT guy. I assume the DNA matches or else they wouldn’t have arrested him. They cannot screw up on this and ruin a man’s life.
    Guess we’ll find out.

  • Wow, if this is the guy then it’s an awesomely good for Charlottesville.

  • I’d suggest care with how the news is being spread on this: For instance, Old Brook Road is not “Woodbrook” – rather it is Raintree off Rio.

  • Note: Even I should have taken better care. NBC-29 further clarifies the address, assuming they are correct: 986 Old Brook Road. Not “Raintree” but “Abbington Crossing Apartments” — Old Brook Road on the South side of Rio.

    http://www.nbc29.com/global/story.asp?s=6923672

  • Just hope it’s the RIGHT guy. I assume the DNA matches or else they wouldn’t have arrested him. They cannot screw up on this and ruin a man’s life.

    I can’t imagine they’d move unless they had solid evidence on this.

    The serial rapist hasn’t attacked since I moved here, so I don’t know all the details of the case. Has anyone else ever been charged?

  • I wouldn’t have given out the address to the home if I were them. Giving the neighborhood, even the street, this makes sense in case there’s some other guy with the same name living in town. But no good will come of giving out his home address.

  • No one has ever been charged to my knowledge. The big thing in addition to the actual henious crimes was when the CPD was trying to eliminate suspects by using DNA swabs on a voluntary basis, which caused outrage amoung the AA community so the practice was discontinued.

  • I know this is all still speculation, but did anyone look at the photo on the 29 website? Didn’t all the victims mention that the rapist had bug eyes? This guy doesn’t look like the photo, and his eyes certainly aren’t bugging out. If the DNA matches, that would be great, but he barely matches the description.

  • Yeah, this guy looks nothing like the sketches or the description.

    Of course, that first sketch was just ridiculous. Nobody looked like that. The second sketch, that they released ~four years ago, at least looked human.

  • Janet, we were discussing this too — I spectulated that maybe when someone is attacking someone, their eyes might bulge out. We were also talking about you really can’t rely on descriptions — wasn’t there a man released in NC because DNA proved he didn’t do it but his victim had positively identified him. (She apologized to him and I thought helped get him released. I never understand why if the DNA proves that it wasn’t someone, why the state doesn’t release someone. I can see some extentuating circumstances, but jeez.)

    I know I’d be a bad witness in this kind of a situation — I’d probably be shocked and overwhelmed by what’s happening that I could probably just give the bare facts like race, maybe height and build. Not everyone has a big old scar or tattoo or something noticeable.

  • I think either the Progress or the Hook did a story about the rapist last year which mentioned the “bug eyes” effect and quoted someone from the police saying it was probably some kind of contacts he used, not the way his eyes normally look.

    It’s interesting that this arrest has finally come. I also don’t quite believe it. Police have long speculated that the rapist was no longer in the area. If this guy has been living in Albemarle all this time, why hasn’t he raped anyone since 2004? Maybe he just moved back to the area.

  • If this guy has been living in Albemarle all this time, why hasn’t he raped anyone since 2004

  • That’s odd…my comment was that maybe he was questioned as a suspect in 2004 and that scared him.

    I guess a lot of our questions will be answered in a few hours.

  • I know. That struck me as odd, too. If this is the guy, and he is supposed to have those weird eyes and all, AND he worked in a very public place like Harris Teeter; how come none of these ladies ever saw him? Seems like he would be taking a big risk on getting caught. Maybe that’s how they got him; one of his victims saw him in the store. God, what a freak out that would be! Whatever it is; sleuthy police work or dumb luck, we’ll take it!

  • If this is the guy, and he is supposed to have those weird eyes and all, AND he worked in a very public place like Harris Teeter; how come none of these ladies ever saw him?

    You’re assuming all jobs in a grocery store are public. I used to work in the Dairy section of a grocery store when I was in college and only saw people for the half-hour or so that I made the shelves look orderly and that was only at night. I could see this guy being part of the overnight crew, in a stocking role, and getting more exposure to people going to and from work than he ever would while he was at work.

    Besides, you’re talking about a handful of victims in a city of 45,000 . The odds are certainly WITH him.

    Yeah, this guy looks nothing like the sketches or the description.

    Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that.

    I really, really, REALLY hope they got the right guy and it’s based on something like DNA. Otherwise, this will be a publicity nightmare for the CPD.

  • WINA will be carrying this press conference live at 4pm.

  • Argh. I feel terrible for this guy’s poor wife and kids. Charlottesville media circa 2002 wouldn’t have tried to harass them. Let’s see if today’s Charlottesville media will show any restraint.

  • I’ll have the audio from the press conference posted later on this evening and will post a trackback.

  • I always love it when a media outlet takes the opportunity to report about a media frenzy. It always seems a little bit like this:

    Pot: “Hey Kettle, you’re black!”

    It’s not like The Hook came right out and chastised the other media outlets, but the tone of the story certainly wasn’t one of, “We’re going to leave this guy’s family alone and not be part of the ensuing media circus.”

  • The Daily Progress blurb said they’ve already terminated him from his delivery job. That was swift.

  • The Hook “Serial rapist arrest update: Neighbors shocked, media clamours for details”

    Since he’s only been charged with one rape, how do we know he is the “serial rapist”?

    I think it is irresponsible journalism to give out his home address, his employers. What ever happened to innocent before proven guilty? This guy’s life is shot before they even step foot in a courtoom. He has a wife, kids-what about them? Surely not their fault, now they’ve been run out of their home.

    if he’s guilty, fine, throw the book at him but ONCE MORE, the press jumps the gun before everything is confirmed.

  • What ever happened to innocent before proven guilty?

    To be fair, that’s a standard that applies to the legal system, not to the rest of us. Milosevic died before he could be convicted, but there’s no reason for any of us to pretend that there’s any question. There was never cause for us to act as if there was some question whether John Allen Muhammad was the beltway sniper. Not having been presented with the evidence in this case, there’s no reason to think that the level of certainty is anywhere near that close. But it’s worth calling up that this legal standard doesn’t apply to us.

    Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? ;)

  • This guy was frequently working at HT on Saturday mornings when I would shop with my kids. He was always courteous and polite; very soft-spoken and helpful. It’s a shock to say the least…

  • Boy Waldo, I was holding back kind of waiting for a cue about the “innocent until proven” thing. All I’d like to add is just think about those women. The C’ville serial rapist is a brutal monster and if this is the guy I hope he burns in hell after life in prison without parole.

  • I took a criminology class at Providence College where I profiled this case for a project. Turns out that serial rapists are so rare that serial killers seem commonplace by comparison. If this is the guy, it will be fascinating to see the psychology behind all of this. On one hand he’s a warm, friendly employee and neighbor, and on the other hand he’s a cold and calculating predator.

  • if this is the guy I hope he burns in hell after life in prison without parole.

    Key word IF.

  • In their special report on this, Channel 19 just repeated about 10 times that this guy was NOT being considered the serial rapist.
    And yet it seems pretty clear that he most certainly is. I suspect that they are just inartfully covering their hindparts, but it makes for a confusing report.

  • In their special report on this, Channel 19 just repeated about 10 times that this guy was NOT being considered the serial rapist.

    So why is the HOOK saying he is?
    Good grief. Is this town so desparate for juicy news stories that they just make up shit? In the meantime I don’t see much about Karl Rove resigning, which is pretty big for us dems.

  • I’m hoping the police have DNA evidence on this guy because he doesn’t look all that much like the sketch, his eyes don’t look remotely bulging or unnaturally white to me and he has no prior convictions. I would hate to think they’d hold a huge press conference, give out his address and make life hell for his wife and children without DNA evidence.

  • I suspect this arrest was based on the slightest of probable cause — very likely a random eyewitness id. The police had to act but they are not going to say much until the DNA tests are completed. And, unlike CSI, that will not happen for a week or so at the very best. I suggest the medial take a breath and relax. If he is the serial rapist, there will be plenty of time to shout. If not, they may regret getting out front on the moral outrage issue.

  • Amen, van. In the wake of the Nifong Hoax, we should all reserve judgment.

  • I thought there were a total of five charges against this guy: two from the city (for a single rape) and three from the county for a different (single) rape. Doesn’t that already put this into the serial rapist category?

    Of course, I only listened to the press conference on a radio. There could be a whole Nixon/Kennedy five o’clock shadow thing going on for those who saw it on TV…

  • “The big thing in addition to the actual heinous crimes was when the CPD was trying to eliminate suspects by using DNA swabs on a voluntary basis, which caused outrage amoung the AA community so the practice was discontinued.”

    Are you outraged that this practice was discontinued?

    “on a voluntary basis” huh? are you kidding me . . . how many black males are there in this community; are we really going to try to solve the crime by a process of elimination!? Hey, I’ve got an idea, maybe we should round up all the black kids, 10-16, in the county and city and do DNA tests on them to make sure they aren’t the street thugs.

    Man, who ever thought of that idea, needs to be run out of town.

    Absolutely gross.

  • Yeah, “voluntary” in name only. Coercion and fear are more like it. “Sure, you don’t HAVE to… if you want us to think you’re the rapist.”

    The thing that scares me is that Camblos will have a hand in the prosecution. Thank God there are city charges as well, ’cause this guy is bound to get off completely in the County because Camblos does something stupid. That is, if he actually remembers to prosecute.

  • Well, if this is actually the guy, then the norm for rapist is about five months for a rape in good old C-ville, so he should be out of jail by July 2008. Just ask Beebe….I hope they got him and it is a heinous crime, which deserves a long prison sentence don’t get me wrong, everyone wants this guy buried underneath the jail if he is guilty, but what about Alston and Beebe, what they did was heinous as well and they are either free or about to go free. The difference is they are white and had real lawyers, this guy is going to get a public defender for sure. Tough to get a decent attorney on an hourly wage I believe. He is toast already…if he did it he deserves it, I am just saying the other guys I mentioned should still be locked up as well. Other than that, great job to the police for not giving up and assuming this guy was either dead or had left the area.

  • I feel sorry for this guy’s family; NBC was up filming the inside of his car pointing out what a family guy he is and describing the contents of their car. All of their neighbors had an opinion (the usual: “he seemed like a nice guy”).

    NBC at 11 had someone interviewing women on the mall saying how safe they suddenly felt now that someone was arrested. What a joke — I mean, for one thing, the rapist’s usual behavior was to attack you IN your house, not on the downtown mall. And just how safe is the mall nowadays to be walking around by yourself after dark? (I don’t mean the kids but the serial rapist wasn’t responsible for EVERY rape in town.)

    You watch, there’ll have to be a change in venue just based on this kind of “media” coverage so we won’t get to see Camblos mess up this case locally. He’ll get to take his case on the road.

  • You got it Kachur,

    Yeah, “voluntary” in name only. Coercion and fear are more like it. “Sure, you don’t HAVE to… if you want us to think you’re the rapist.”

    I love Chip Harding’s defense of this practice:

    Basically, “well the suspect IS black, I provided by sending the DNA to DNAPrint Genomics”, aint I innovative! ( a comany that can track your ancestors, you know made popular by Oprah Winfrey)

    Duh, we had victim’s testimonies to that effect . . . I mean lets say that this particular rapist was white (surprisingly, white people can be criminals too!) Anyway, do you think Chip Harding would have proposed the same DNA dragnet if the rapist was white? I say no.

  • Gosh, I love the way you guys come to the defense of the bad guys. If the cops weren’t doing something like eliminating suspects, you’d be the first ones saying, “Well why aren’t the police doing anything.” What else can you do? Let’s hear your idea about how you would catch the criminal. Huh? Nothing? That’s what I thought.

  • Since they arrested him at one in the morning, I think they may have already gotten and tested his DNA. If they didn’t already have a DNA match (that’s been tested more than once) they won’t have had a press conference. If this guy has a good lawyer they will try and plea bargain this and they probably won’t even be a trial.

    This is the one case that everyone involved will make sure is covered eight ways from Sunday.

  • Well, if this is actually the guy, then the norm for rapist is about five months for a rape in good old C-ville, so he should be out of jail by July 2008.

    beebe was sentenced under old guidelines b/c the crime occurred in 1984 (prior to the abolition of parole in VA in 1994). that’s why he only did 6 mos. the serial rapist will undoubtedly do a lot of time, since forceable rape, i believe, carries a life sentence in VA (correct me if i’m wrong).

  • I’m as tuffoncrime as they come, but in a free society you can’t have the police going around stopping discrete minorities and asking for DNA swabs in an ill-conceived attempt to thwart crime. It’s enough to make me wanna join the ACLU. Well, almost.

  • It’s “six ways from Sunday” as in the other six days, and remember, you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet.

    e.g. –

    1. six ways from sunday

    Use this phrase to describe something you did or would like to do a good amount of times. This phrase says “six ways” which represent the six days after Sunday in a week (Monday – Saturday). It can have a positive or negative cannotation depending on the manner in which you use it.

  • The whole story smells fishy to me. It seems the arrest is based on a victim from ’04 seeing him at Harris Teeter. Maybe she’s right but she quite possibly may be wrong. The DNA will be informative but we don’t have it yet. The guy looks nothing like the pictures. Yet, before following up on the lead and checking DNA we have this guy in all the papers as THE serial rapist complete with name and home address of his wife and children. That’s just WRONG. If he’s the guy, he should do the time. I doubt if the time will be as bad as what he’s already gotten.

    Last year we had the huge “smoke bomber” story based on press conferences that turned out to be misleading. The authorities talked of guns and bombs and stated that they were certainly going to do it. In the end, it was only one kid writing dark poetry and 3 kids who didn’t know what to do with him. I don’t buy these grandstand moves. Do the work and prove the case and try to behave honorably in public.

    A prosecutor does a high profile press conference based on one witness just before elections….. and he isn’t named Nifong this time. Mr Camblos, I’ll wait and see.

  • Way2Go,

    The DNA dragnet was not only racist, but was a colossal waste of resources. Akin to the logic that if you nuke all of Iraq, you’ll get rid of the insurgency.

    If they HAD asked the rapist for a swab, he would have had constitutional grounds to refuse, so, being guilty, he naturally would have. The dragnet had almost zero chance of being successful. Had the police sat on their hands back at the office, the same result would have been achieved with a lot less taxpayer money.

  • Oh, so now we’re pinching pennies when it comes to law enforcement. What if one of your family members was a victim? Hmm? Oh, that’s different. I understand.

  • Oh, so now we’re pinching pennies when it comes to law enforcement. What if one of your family members was a victim? Hmm? Oh, that’s different. I understand.

    Way2Go, if you want to engage in discussion, I encourage you to do so. But this sort of thing — asking Dan a question, answering it for him, and then insulting him on the basis of that imaginary answer — does nothing to foster useful conversation.

  • You’re right. You’re always right. Poof! Gone.

  • There’s no need for you to opt out of the conversation, Way2Go, unless you find the topic too hot to handle. (Which, honestly, would be entirely understandable. This is the sort of thing that could hit pretty close to home.) All I’m asking is that you try to be nicer. :)

  • It seems the arrest is based on a victim from ‘04 seeing him at Harris Teeter.

    I heard some reporter bring that up at the press conference, but I never heard either Chief back that up.

    The fact that there’s a “tesk force” makes me think they’ve been working on this for a long time and that it wasn’t simply the result of a sighting at Harris Teeter.

  • Are you all saying that this guy has been arrested because of a spotting at HT? That there’s no DNA proof yet? That they’ve been watching him and his family for months because there was a spotting at HT? Don’t we all know how many people are sitting in jail due to mis identification by victims and/or witnesses? They have ruined this guy’s wife and kids lives WITH NO DNA EVIDENCE???
    PLKEASE someone say it ain’t so.

  • I am guessing this guy didn’t do it. I kind of hope I’m wrong because Longo will look like a jerk.

  • I wouldn’t put it past Camblos to screw this up as badly as some here clearly fear (as “Family Guy” pointed out, Camblos was quite happy to hold a big press conference about the smoke bombers when that went down last year), but there are so many others involved in this from the county, city, and university, that I’m not feeling real worried. Though it’s totally reasonable to see the lack of evidence presented to the public as trouble, I’ve got faith that the seriousness of this case and the ways in which it was handled badly in the past (the first sketch, the DNA profiling) have made all involved parties pretty cautious this time around.

  • There are many ways to get DNA from someeone (legally) without their permisson. I would guess that they were able to collect a DNA sample and test it before they even arrested him. It really won’t be that haed and I doubt they would have had a press conference before a DNA match or a confession.

    If they didn’t have a DNA match before the press conference I will be shocked beyond measure. It’s possible just not probable.

  • Walodo: “do they report that the serial rapist has been caught, or do they toe the cautious line drawn by law enforcement”

    Facts

  • There are many ways to get DNA from someeone (legally) without their permisson. I would guess that they were able to collect a DNA sample and test it before they even arrested him.

    I’ve been thinking the exact same thing. They said they were watching him for a “good” amount of time, right? I bet they were waiting for a chance to get some DNA legally for a while and only moved when they had it.

  • I am guessing this guy didn’t do it. I kind of hope I’m wrong because Longo will look like a jerk.

    i was thinking the same thing. if they held this big-time press conference and this guy turns out to be a wash, our local law enforcement will officially enter into laughing-stock territory (they were close w/ the whole ‘not being able to catch punk kids sucker-punching people’ thing). given the fact that they all but said “we got our man”, hopefully they have some pretty powerful evidence on him. i wonder how the police and media will respond if he’s not the guy after they’ve dragged him through so much mud (posting his address was really classy, IMO).

  • We have to have confidence in Barney Fife, Howdy doody and Perry Mason, ok???

    They’ve ruined this guy’s life so he sure as hell better be the right guy. Laighing stock isn’t the half of it. I’d say lawsuit would be appropriate.

  • We should all have our DNA cataloged at birth, for the good of humanity.

  • Channel 19 has an interview with the guy’s wife.
    Sad.

  • It is possible that the reason they’re only charging him with two rapes is because only two of the victims are comfortable enough to testify, right? Or have I been watching too many episodes of Law & Order?

  • Dave- what did his wife say? I didn’t see it. I bet it was very sad. Have to feel sorry for her and the kids.

  • These cases go way back and this all appears to have unfolded very quickly. Why only two charges, my guess is that the other victims are not immediately available to ID him in a lineup. Clearly, they are attempting to contact the other victims and have them try to ID him to make their case that much stronger. One thing we know for sure, if his DNA matches one of the victims it matches all and they have their man.

  • I pray those kids get quality counseling and support for having their dad taken away from their home. Thats a horrible thing for kids.

  • Doesn’t having his picture in the paper effectively wreck any future IDs that might have been made by victims of the serial rapist?

  • The key is a DNA match. And has there been a lineup? So how long is this guy going to sit in jail before hard evidence is produced?

  • Considering the recent case here in which a wrongfully identified man, accused of rape, sued the victim who misidentified him, wouldn’t the police be colossally stupid to start a media circus over Washington’s arrest if the only grounds for that arrest is a visual ID?

    Also, I could swear the police saying, during that initial press conference, that Washington’s picture had not yet been released. This was about a minute after NBC 29 displayed his picture.

    Sincerely hoping they have DNA evidence they haven’t told us about. Incidentally, a longtime serial rapist/murderer in Buffalo, NY was caught this January. He too was married, a regular guy who no one suspected. Police got his DNA by following him to a restaurant and asking his server to give them his plate and utensils.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/nation/5055105.html

  • Yes the police WOULD be colossally stupid if the only grounds was a visual ID, but that will not be the case. Stay tuned, because some of the naysayers of the area police are gonna be eating crow. When all this is said and done you might want to THANK a cop for what they do rather than bashing the hell out of them. A heck of a lot of people have been working on this case for a long time. I suspect this arrest will stand. Commonwealth Attorneys, being the politicians they are, DON’T do press conferences unless they are pretty sure they are golden.

  • Thank you jeeperman. A dangerous man is off the streets. That is all you should be talking about Police did their jobs and they should be praised and not vilified. Some of you all will owe some apologies when this is done and some media outlets who leaked details and ran stories using “unconfirmed” details that turned out to be wrong should also see the error of their unprofessional ways. One Commonwealth Attorney played politics but that is nothing new. He came out looking like a weasle but what else is new.

  • Just to clarify: I’m not saying the police *are* colossally stupid, just that they would be if visual ID is the only grounds for this arrest and press conference. I agree that it’s very likely there is much more evidence they haven’t released to the public.

    Plus, the fact that the Waynesboro police chief was invited to the conference, says that they feel confident that he will eventually be charged with more crimes than he has been up to this point.

  • joeblow writes “A dangerous man is off the streets.”

    How easily we overlook a central tenet of our civil liberties — presumed innocent until proven guilty. It’s easy when it’s someone else whom we don’t know, but if it ever hits close to home — if anyone joeblow knows and trusts gets charged with a crime, you can bet he’ll be the first to tell everyone else to slow down, these are just charges, everyone in the United States is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    for the record, I don’t think the local police are bumblers who’ve gone cowboy on Mr. Washington. I think they probably have more than a visual ID. I think the perception that Mr. Washington’s picture doesn’t look like the police drawings counts for nothing. I think his wife’s protestations of his innocence count for nothing (in that they’re hardly exculpatory). I tend to think that they probably got the right man. But I think the presumption of innocence in this country is way too important — and endangered — to go around shooting off my mouth about a dangerous man being off the streets.

  • Also, I could swear the police saying, during that initial press conference, that Washington’s picture had not yet been released. This was about a minute after NBC 29 displayed his picture.

    chief longo said they (the police) would not be releasing his mug shot. but he did comment that the local media had already plastered a picture of washington up on their websites. i recall seeing his pic on the newsplex website as well as 29’s website several hours before the press conference. it looked like a mug shot to me, but i also recall the articles saying he had a prior record, so maybe they dug up an old mug shot.

  • Trust me on this-the wife is always the last to know. I’m sure she believes he’s innocent.

  • According to the Daily Progress and Camblos, there is a DNA match, and the crimes for which he’s being charged were linked by DNA evidence to the serial rapist.

    Well done, CPD! Cases like this are not easy to crack.

  • But a really smart wife is always the first to know!

  • I hope the detectives on that task force get some sort of formal recognition for the work they’ve done.

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