MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - DNA technology has helped Mesa police crack a cold case that is more than two decades old and track down a suspect known as "the East Valley Rapist." Police say 57-year-old John Daly III, a recently retired Border Patrol agent, is suspected in a series of sexual assaults between July of 1999 and October of 2001.
Police say the assaults happened in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Bisbee and were connected by similar suspect behavior. Three of the cases (Mesa, Gilbert, and Bisbee) were linked by DNA, but police say they had no good leads at the time.
However, in February, the SAKI program (Sexual Assault Kit Initiative) pointed investigators to Daly's name. A history check showed Daly had lived near each of the sexual assaults at the time they occurred. Then last month, DNA linked Daly to two of the sexual assaults; one Mesa and one Gilbert case, police said.
Officers from Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Bisbee Police Departments investigated these cases jointly, making connections, conducting interviews, and collecting evidence. Even the FBI and Border Patrol joined the effort to assist and support the investigation.
Daly was taken into custody in Sierra Vista on Tuesday. He was booked on charges related to three of the eight cases. Bisbee Police Department will submit charges for its case, and police say the other four cases require additional investigative efforts before charging. If you or someone you know may have additional information regarding Daly, please call the Mesa Police Department at 480-644-2211.
Here is a synopsis of the cases for which he is charged:
- On Nov. 25, 1999, a 21-year-old woman was attacked at a home near Harris and Baseline in Mesa. Police say Daly entered through an unlocked front door, blindfolded the victim and committed sexual assault, kidnapping and sexual abuse.
- On Oct. 19, 1999 a 32-year-old woman was attacked at a home near Houston and Cooper in Gilbert. Police say Daly entered through open bathroom window, blindfolded the woman and committed kidnapping, burglary and sexual abuse.
- On Nov. 3, 2000, a 35-year-old woman was attacked at a home near Greenfield and Elliott in Gilbert. Police say Daly entered through a broken window, blindfolded the woman and committed sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and sexual abuse.
“This may just be unfortunately the tip of the iceberg,” said former Phoenix Police assistant chief Kevin Robinson. “There's two things that's going to stop a sexual offender like this: it's that they get arrested and go to prison, or they're going to die.”
This case has blaring similarities to others; one specifically Robinson remembers working around the same time where the list of victims continued to grow.
“In the early 2000s, we had in the city of Phoenix, well actually parts of the Valley, we had an offender who was dubbed the 'A.M. Rapist'. He would assault his victims after midnight in the early morning hours,” Robinson said. “In this particular case with the ‘A.M. Rapist’ he ultimately was responsible for well over a dozen assaults.”
Another similarity -- the California case of the Golden State Killer, who was also a former law enforcement officer like John Daly.
Robinson believes these suspects never expected to get caught. “The similarities you have between the Golden State Killer and this one in the East Valley is they're law enforcement individuals, so you would think they're probably thinking they won't be caught or they won't be suspected in these cases,” Robinson said.