PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Police Department has released a new composite picture of the suspect known as the “Fairmount Park Rapist” based on his genetic profile.
It’s the first time the department has used such technology, after years after years of pushing out composite sketches.
Parabon NanoLabs used DNA collected at the crime scenes to create a composite of the suspect, using genetic markers like eye, hair and skin color. They also traced the suspect’s ethnic origins.
It’s been 18 years since the serial rapist’s first attack, and still no arrests.
In April 2003, the suspect ambushed a woman who was jogging along Kelly Drive, near Fountain Green Drive. He threatened her with a knife and sexually assaulted her.
Months later, in July, the attacks escalated. Medical student Rebecca Park, 30, went for a run and never returned home. Days later, her body was found along the 3500 block of Conshohocken Avenue. She had been raped and strangled.
Then in October, on West River Drive near Falls Bridge, the suspect attempted to strike again, but the victim was able to get away.
The next attack occurred four years later, in August 2007. The victim was sexually assaulted along a trail in Pennypack Park, near Frankford and Solly avenues.
DNA evidence has linked the Fairmount Park Rapist to all four incidents.
Authorities had also used age-progression technology to show what the suspect may have looked like then and now.
Victims of the attacks gave similar accounts of the man’s appearance. At the time, he was described as having a medium and muscular build and being about 5-feet-8-inches tall. He has black hair with a thin mustache or jawline beard and bushy eyebrows. Victims also said he has a widow’s peak hairline.
In two cases, victims said he had an earring in his left ear, and he was seen fleeing two scenes on a purple metallic 10-speed bike.
He told the victims that he was from Puerto Rico and had a lot of siblings, according to police. They believe he’s in his 40s now.
“I think it bears a pretty good resemblance,” Special Victims Unit Capt. Mark Burgmann said of the new composite image based on DNA. “If you look at the eyes, how the eyebrows are raised and bushy — just the whole face. I think it’s close.”
Meanwhile, investigators are mapping out his family tree to see if they can identify him, but that could take months.
The hope is that someone will recognize him and call in a tip to investigators. The public can call or text 215-686-TIPS. The tip can remain anonymous.
KYW Newsradio delves into the murder of Rebecca Park and investigators’ latest search efforts in the newest episode of the original podcast Gone Cold. Listen below.