In the middle of four nights in Dallas in the mid-1980s, a man broke into separate homes, threatened a woman in each with a weapon and raped her.
During the 35 years that followed, the police did not know the assailant’s name.
On Wednesday, authorities arrested in connection with the cases David Hawkins, 74, at his home in Keene, Texas.
He was identified this year when his DNA was “subjected to genealogical research and analysis,” Dallas police said.
The path to Hawkins’ arrest began in 2005 when Dallas police encouraged victims of sexual assaults that occurred in the 1970s or 1980s to contact them to ask about the status of their case and the possibility of solving it.
The victim from an April 1985 sexual assault asked that her case be reopened. The evidence collected from that case and others was submitted for DNA testing. The resulting profiles were uploaded to a DNA database.
Authorities discovered the assailant DNA from the 1985 case and three other Dallas rapes, in 1983 and 1982, matched the assailant DNA from two rape cases that occurred in 1980 in Shreveport. There was no identifiable suspect. Detectives investigated the cases and eliminated possible suspects.
Then, earlier, this year, genealogical research yielded a connection to Hawkins. Police did not describe the circumstances of the research.
Hawkins was to be booked into the Dallas County Jail on suspicion of aggravated sexual assault. Police said they expected charges to be filed in the coming weeks.
Hawkins was arrested in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in May 1973 and charged with rape, police said. He pleaded no contest. His DNA was not collected then because that measure was not required.
Hawkins was released from custody on parole in 1977. He has lived in and near Fort Worth since then, police said.
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