Sometimes he posed as a repairman. Other times, he simply walked in through an unlocked door.
In the mid-1980s, a man dubbed the “maintenance man” rapist assaulted women in metro Atlanta apartments. For more than two decades, police never gave up, but the suspect got away with the crimes. His luck may have changed last week.
Atlanta police said Tuesday that DNA evidence has linked 62-year-old Daniel Wade to five cases. A Fulton County Grand Jury indicted Wade on Friday in those five cases, Investigator Alton Calhoun said.
It’s possible that Wade, currently in federal prison on unrelated burglary charges, is responsible for up to 29 rapes, mostly along the I-85 corridor in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, Calhoun said Tuesday afternoon. For Atlanta police, Wade’s indictment ends years of wondering if the cases would ever be solved.
“Satisfaction is an understatement,” Calhoun told reporters outside APD headquarters.
Evidence was collected in the initial cases, but despite a thorough investigation, no arrests were made, Calhoun said. In 2007 and 2008, DNA evidence input into a nationwide database linked the same person to several of the Atlanta rapes, he said.
But investigators only had a DNA profile, not a name. In March 2011, Wade was identified as a suspect in five of the rapes, Calhoun said. Calhoun was able to locate just four of the victims because one had died. But all four agreed to assist with the investigation.
“It probably brings back a lot of bad memories,” Calhoun said.
Late last year, Calhoun visited Wade in a Kentucky prison, police said. In January, he turned the cases over to the Fulton County District Attorney. Wade isn’t scheduled to be released from prison until March 2021, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. When he’s released, Wade is expected to be extradited to Georgia.
“It’s our intention to get him back down here,” Calhoun said.
The string of rapes made numerous headlines in the middle to late 1980s as one by one, victims gave police similar details about their attacker. The suspect was described as being articulate, clever and having soft hands,, Atlanta police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1987.
The victims ranged in age from 12 to 50, and most were alone in apartments at the time of the assaults, police have said. Sometimes, the suspect entered the apartments through an unlocked door. Other times, he pretended to be a maintenance worker arriving to fix a problem.
In one case, the suspect poured water under an apartment door, then knocked on the door and told the female occupant that he was checking for a leak, the AJC previously reported.
It was not known Tuesday if Wade had been linked to similar crimes in other metro Atlanta counties.
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