For the second time this year, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert on Friday announced an arrest in a decades-old cold case broken open by a new frontier in DNA forensic science.
Schubert was joined by prosecutors from Contra Costa, Butte, Yolo, Sonoma and Solano counties to discuss the Thursday arrest of 58-year-old Benicia resident Roy Charles Waller, who is suspected of at least 10 home invasions and rapes between 1991 and 2006.
"The answer has always been in the DNA," Schubert said. "DNA is the silent witness to the truth. For 27 years, that truth was not known, until now."
Waller was linked to DNA evidence collected after rapes in Rohnert Park, Sonoma, Vallejo, Martinez, Woodland, Chico, Davis and Sacramento, according to Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn.
He said the suspect dubbed the "NorCal rapist" is responsible for "numerous horrific crimes where he terrorized women in jurisdictions throughout Northern California, typically for hours at a time."
"Waller was arrested yesterday in Berkeley as he arrived to work," Hahn said. "The suspect is married and has had the same job for the last 25 years. We have confirmed via DNA that Waller is the suspect in many of these crimes."
UC Berkeley spokespeople confirmed Waller has been employed as a safety specialist in the school's Environment, Health and Safety office since 1992. He managed safety and training programs "regarding the use of equipment and machinery including forklifts, aerial lifts" and other devices.
"We were shocked today to learn that a campus employee was arrested in connection with a series of rapes that occurred more than a decade ago in several Northern California communities," says the university's written statement in response to Waller's arrest. The university said Waller is on "investigative leave."
"[T]here is no indication that any crimes occurred within the campus community," the statement says, citing Sacramento and university law enforcement. "However UCPD will be reviewing any open sexual assault cases to determine if any might be related."
'NorCal Rapist' Followed Disturbing Pattern
The "NorCal rapist" suspect followed a chilling pattern in his crimes, according to Sacramento detective Avis Beery, who has worked the case for 12 years.
"He would enter houses, usually late at night," Beery said. "Sometimes the victims would be asleep, sometimes they would be going about their activities in the evening. He would overcome them. He would bind them and then repeatedly sexually assault them. He would ransack their homes, and sometimes he would kidnap the victims and take them to ATMs where he would get money out of their accounts. And other times he would steal personal items from their homes."
The rape series began in 1991 with an attack in Rohnert Park, followed by another rape a year later in the city of Sonoma, said Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell.
Then there was an attack in Vallejo, in Solano County, in 1992.
Waller is a suspect in a Halloween 1996 attack in Martinez in Contra Costa County, District Attorney Diana Becton said.
"Ten years after the attack in Contra Costa County, our office filed a John Doe complaint with the specific DNA profile of this same individual," Becton said. "We filed the complaint to preserve the statute of limitations for some of the [12 felony] counts in this case."
Schubert said Waller was charged Wednesday with 12 felonies in Sacramento County, some of which include enhancements related to breaking into homes with intent to rape and tying up victims.
Those enhancements open the option for a life sentence and can override the statute of limitations, she said.
The same suspect is believed to have attacked four women in Davis and Woodland in the late 1990s and in 2000, according to Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.
"The suspect in this case was a real-life boogeyman who crept into victims' homes under the cover of darkness and attacked them when they were most vulnerable," Reisig said. "His days of inflicting such terror are over."
DNA Came From Suspect's Blood After Victim Fought Back
The "NorCal rapist" is also believed to have attacked a woman in Chico in 1997, who fought back.
"The DNA in our case comes from her stabbing the defendant in the arm," Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey said. "And a man that tried to clean up the crime scene was unsuccessful because there was too much blood. He could not cover his sins, his crime, and we owe a great deal to a very, very brave victim."
Finally, Waller is suspected of raping two women in northern Sacramento in 2006. He's expected to be arraigned on charges related to those crimes in Sacramento County Superior Court on Monday.
Sacramento County DA Schubert confirmed Waller was connected to the series of crimes in much the same way that criminalists with the Sacramento crime lab identified Joseph James DeAngelo as the "Golden State Killer," "East Area Rapist" and "Original Night Stalker" in April.
"The link was made through genetic genealogy," Schubert said, citing GEDmatch, the open source website for DNA information.
"Genealogy was done approximately 10 days ago, which led us very quickly to this individual. And within that last 10 days the Police Department has undertaken a massive investigation, which culminated yesterday with his arrest."