Updated: 5:07 p.m.
Minneapolis police arrested an Anoka County man in a series of rapes spanning five years in the city’s Marcy-Holmes and Dinkytown neighborhoods, authorities said Sunday.
The 34-year-old suspect, who is jailed in Hennepin County and expected to face charges Monday, is also being looked at for other sexual assaults outside of the city that date back to 2013, Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Erick Fors said during the press conference broadcast on the department’s Facebook page.
“We put our heart and soul into this,” said Fors, who declined to share many specifics about what led to the Friday arrest. “…We were not going to stop until we found him.”
The arrest comes about a month after the department, joined by the University of Minnesota police, announced they were working on the serial rape case. They released a series of sketches of a male suspect and pleaded for the public’s help. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI were also involved.
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During the March press conference, Fors said the suspect may have been the same man who got in a woman's car and tried to pull her in the back seat near the University of Minnesota’s main campus. At that time, they said they were looking for a white man aged 30 to 50 and medium build, who seemed to know the area.
Praise for tips, dogged police work
Fors said investigators chased down every tip, some of which he described as very promising, but the arrest was not a result of the public’s tips.
Rather he painted a picture of detectives combing through old files, looking for leads in other cases that could provide a link to any of the unsolved assault cases — like putting pieces of a puzzle together.
“We looked at it through filters … working and working and working,’’ until evidence started adding up, he said. “Detectives do what they do.”
“It was tireless work (that led to) placing him under arrest,’’ Fors said, adding that authorities linked evidence they acquired Friday to other evidence.
The deputy chief said the suspect came to the attention of detectives last week and “until Friday, was not someone that was in the forefront.”
The suspect, who MPR News is not naming because he has not been formally charged, was jailed on suspicion of burglary and criminal sexual conduct. Fors would not say how many assaults police have linked to the man nor how many others cases he may be a suspect in.
According to Minneapolis police reports, the man is a suspect in cases including a June 11, 2019 burglary where a window was found damaged, and an Aug. 7, 2019 sexual assault of a woman. The addresses for those reported crimes were redacted.
Arrest not a result of untested rape kits
Fors declined to say if authorities used DNA to match the suspect to the unsolved cases.
But he did say the arrest was not a result of the discovery of more than 1,000 untested rape kits in 2019. Minneapolis police officials have said the department's backlog of untested rape kits was an accounting error traced back to 2015, revealing MPD had nearly 1,700 untested kits — far more than the 194 reported back then.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey thanked the department for its work, and he and Fors thanked the victim-survivors for their patience and courage in coming forward and reporting the crime.
“To the survivors, we hope this provide some sort of closure to everything you have been been through,’’ Frey said.