Police utilize DNA evidence to create suspect composite sketch in Gaithersburg rape case

- Montgomery County police have provided a composite image of the suspect in a Gaithersburg rape that was created using the man’s DNA.

The sexual assault happened at around 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 6 near a bus stop on Watkins Mill Road at Travis Lane. The victim reported that a stranger grabbed her, pulled her into the woods and attacked her.

After weeks have gone by with no arrest, Montgomery County police turned to a Reston company that uses crime scene DNA to predict a suspect’s physical appearance and ancestry. Parabon NanoLabs has worked on cases from around the world.

“It’s a blood sample, it's a hair root, it's skin scrapings under finger nail,” said Parabon CEO Dr. Steven Armentrout. “Those kinds of samples will have DNA.”

It’s not an exact science, but even a very small sample can accurately predict what a suspect looks like.

“Eye color, hair color, skin color, face shape, ancestry, face morphology, and we bring all that together into a composite sketch and help investigators do their jobs more efficiently,” Armentrout said.

The rape case is the third time Montgomery County Police have used the lab for help.

“This is brand new technology to law enforcement,” said Montgomery County Police Officer Rick Goodale.

He said the woman attacked at the bus stop provided useful details that added to the suspect composite.

“Specifically, she gave us the hairstyle in the composite,” Goodale said.

A man who attacked a stranger at random is someone police need off the streets, and the hope is this helps gets it done.

“We are hoping by putting this out there we will identify him pretty quick and this will be a success story,” said Goodale.

Anyone who may recognize this suspect is asked to call Montgomery County Police’s Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5050. Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

A cash reward of up to $10,000 is being offered by Crime Solvers for information that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this rape case.

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