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Cops Use Social Media, Launch Website in Effort to Find Potomac River Rapist

Posted Dec 16, 2011 9:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The FBI is joining with local police in Maryland in an Internet-inspired effort to get the public’s help in tracking down a serial rapist.

Authorities are launching a website, employing digital billboards and using social media in an effort to find the man known as the Potomac River rapist, the Washington Post reports. He is suspected of raping and killing a biochemist, raping seven other women and beating a woman who fought off a rape attempt.

The attacks began in 1991 and ended in 1997. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. says it's possible the suspect is free, but he has changed his modus operandi.

Ronald Hosko, who heads the criminal division of the FBI’s field office in Washington, D.C., outlines other possibilities. He tells the Post the offender could be in prison on a charge that doesn’t require DNA samples or in a jurisdiction “where they don’t load up their DNA samples the way we do.” He also says the rapist could be dead or in a foreign country committing similar crimes.

The campaign was inspired by a “digital information blitz” that led to a tip and the arrest of a man believed to be the East Coast rapist, the Post says. The new campaign will use iTunes podcasts, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. A reward of $25,000 is also being offered, according to a press release.

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