Suspect indicted in 1980s ‘maintenance man’ rapes

Sometimes, he posed as a repairman. Other times, he simply walked in through an unlocked door.

In the mid-1980s, an attacker dubbed the “maintenance man” rapist assaulted women in metro Atlanta apartments. For more than two decades, police made little progress on the case. That may have changed last week.

Atlanta police said Tuesday that DNA evidence has linked 62-year-old Daniel Wade to five of the cases. A Fulton County grand jury indicted Wade Friday in those cases, investigator Alton Calhoun said.

Wade is currently in federal prison on unrelated burglary charges, Calhoun said Tuesday. He 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.

For Atlanta police, Wade’s indictment ends years of wondering if the cases would ever be solved.

“Satisfaction is an understatement,” Calhoun said outside Atlanta Police Department headquarters.

Evidence initially was collected in the cases, but despite a thorough investigation, no arrests were made, Calhoun said. In 2007 and 2008, DNA evidence put 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.

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.

The string of rapes made headlines in the mid- 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 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 reported.