(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Police have arrested a 61-year-old man from Arlington County who allegedly abducted and raped a Fairfax County woman multiple times over three decades ago.
Fingerprint and DNA analyses suggest George Thomas Jr. and his now-deceased brother, Gregory Allen Thomas, were the offenders in the 1988 rape of a 22-year-old woman who got attacked as she was leaving work in Bailey’s Crossroads, the Fairfax County Police Department said this afternoon (Tuesday).
“This is another chapter for the victim in this case, and undoubtedly, it’s a lifetime of trauma and healing. In this case, justice is delayed, but justice is not denied,” Police Chief Kevin Davis said.
According to police, the woman was walking to her car after finishing work at Skyline Mall (5115 Leesburg Pike) on Aug. 24, 1988 when two men attacked her in a garage and forced her to drive her vehicle to a secluded, wooded area.
After allegedly raping her, the men forced the woman to drive to another location where they raped her again, said FCPD Maj. Ed O’Carroll, chief of the department’s cyber and forensics major crimes bureau.
“This is a profoundly horrifying series of events. The victim was able to escape in her car and fled the scene following the second assault,” O’Carroll said.
FCPD officers responded to the crime that night and collected “an abundant amount of forensic evidence,” including fingerprints lifted from the woman’s vehicle, O’Carroll said.
The woman provided a description of one of the men, leading police to develop a composite sketch that was widely circulated, but no tips materalized leading to an arrest. Submissions of the collected evidence to state and national DNA databases also came up empty, the FCPD says.
A breakthrough came in 2020 courtesy of an “astute” forensic examiner who matched one of the recovered fingerprints to a print in an unrelated Alexandria City arrest record, O’Carroll said at the press conference.
Police say advanced DNA analysis confirmed that Gregory Allen Thomas, who died in 2009 was one of the offenders in the rape. Detectives later obtained a “discarded” DNA sample from Thomas Jr., who was “alive, well and living in Arlington,” that indicated he was the second offender.
Thomas Jr. was arrested at a Metro station in Montgomery County on Monday (Nov. 21) by U.S. Marshal Service deputies, with Metro and Fairfax County police assisting. He’s currently being held in Montgomery County’s Adult Detention Center but is expected to be transferred to Fairfax County, where the case will be tried.
The FCPD didn’t immediately respond to inquiries seeking clarification on which station the arrest was made at and the nature of the Alexandria arrest.
However, Alexandria General District Court records show that a George Thomas was arrested on Sept. 12, 2020 on a misdemeanor concealed weapons charge. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail, which were suspended. He also paid a $214 fine.
O’Carroll said that both brothers had been involved with the police in the past, and the department believes they may have been connected to other cases in Northern Virginia. He advised anyone with information to contact Major Crimes Bureau detectives at 703-246-7800, option 8.
Among those present at the press conference was the original lead detective on the case, Dick Kline, who had joined the FCPD in 1980 and retired in 2007.
“It gives you a sense of resolve when something like this happens, because you do actually live these cases with the victim for years and years,” Kline said. “There are times when you have no idea, no help from the public. It’s very difficult…Even though it’s more than 30 years later, it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing from above that finally justice prevails.”
James Cullum contributed to this report.
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