Suspect cleared in Scottsdale sexual assault case

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The man originally thought to be responsible for two sexual assaults in Scottsdale is no longer considered a suspect.

On Thursday, Ryan Joseph Festa, 22, was cleared in the case by DNA evidence taken from the two victims.

Festa was arrested last month for allegedly sexually assaulting two women on separate occasions in the area of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard.

Festa had turned himself in to police after seeing the news coverage on television, which included a sketch of the suspect.

Police didn't know why Festa originally turned himself in, saying it's "very" uncommon for people to end up cleared by DNA after doing so. One possible theory is that Festa's bizarre behavior can be attributed to psychological problems he's had since receiving a traumatic brain injury when he was hit by a pickup truck at age 15.

With Festa cleared, Scottsdale Police ran the DNA collected through the national database but didn't get a match.

Police are now back to square one with their investigation.

Meanwhile, Scottsdale police held a community safety briefing at the apartment complex where one of the sexual assaults happened. Nearly 100 concerned residents packed a tiny room to hear police speak and to voice their concerns.

"You walk out, you’re almost petrified," said Terress Martori, a concerned citizen whose daughter lives in the area where the rapes happened. "You shouldn't have that feeling. You shouldn’t feel petrified.

Despite police assertions that Festa is innocent of these sexual assaults, many people at the community meeting still said they were wary of him in their community. Police told residents that Festa’s lawyer said his client would not be returning to the apartment complex where he lived when the rapes happened.

Police said they are stepping up patrols in the area, asking people to be vigilant and lock their doors.  Both victims were attacked after leaving their patio doors unlocked which police call a "crime of opportunity."