PHILADELPHIA -- A man was charged yesterday with raping eight women in attacks that had seemed unrelated but were linked by DNA evidence and detective work.
Test results are due next week on whether the suspect's DNA matches genetic evidence from the attacks, but police said they are confident they charged the right man.
"We feel he will be convicted," Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said, without elaborating.
The suspect, John Wortham, 40, lived in the south Philadelphia neighborhood where half the attacks occurred between 2002 and June, police said. Wortham has been in jail since July on an unrelated burglary charge.
He faces rape, kidnapping, and other charges for the eight attacks. Police Captain John Darby said evidence is being studied to see if still more cases might be related.
It was not clear if Wortham had a lawyer, and police declined to say if he gave a statement.
The attacker targeted women who were out at night alone, often in unsafe areas, Darby said. He was armed with a rock, brick, knife, or gun. The attacks occurred in north and south Philadelphia, and victims' descriptions of the attacker varied widely.
However, Darby said, the DNA links led police to rethink the cases and find similarities. Detectives re-interviewed victims and staked out neighborhoods overnight to talk to regulars.