DNA has linked a man in prison for burglary to two unsolved rapes from 1997 where the suspect broke into the apartments of sleeping women, threatened them with a knife and sexually assaulted them, prosecutors said.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the 55-year-old suspect, who is serving a 16-year sentence for a 2000 burglary case, was charged Friday with two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy for the 1997 rapes.
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In the first attack in July 1997, a 23-year-old woman was asleep in her Richmond Hill apartment when a man broke in at 4 a.m. She awoke to him crouching in her bedroom, prosecutors said.
The suspect grabbed her, put a knife to her throat and demanded cash. She gave him $20 and then he sodomized and raped her.
Several months later in November, a suspect broke into another Richmond Hill apartment where a 24-year-old woman was sleeping. He showed a knife and raped the victim before he fled.
Brown said rape kits in both cases had been tested years ago, but were retested recently as part of his office's cold case initiative. More sensitive DNA tests turned up a match to the suspect, Johnny Dupree.
"This case underscores the crucial importance of DNA evidence, which is irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence," Brown said in a statement.
Dupree's next court appearance is in April. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.