4/24/02 An airman, who underwent training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of a string of Colorado sexual assaults last summer and has also come under suspicion in a slaying and a series of rapes in Philadelphia, police said.
Senior Airman Troy Graves, 29, was jailed on ,1 million bail after turning himself in. He listed a Fort Collins address, but has been stationed for two years about 40 miles away at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he performed maintenance work on intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Air Force said.
Graves joined the military in 1999, attending basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. From November 1999 to April 2000, he attended missile maintenance school at Vandenberg. Authorities said he did not receive any administrative punishments while assigned to the Central Coast.
Central Coast law enforcement officials were reviewing records for unsolved sexual assaults, but were not immediately aware of any that might be linked to Graves, officials with several agencies said Tuesday.
A month after Graves arrived at the Wyoming base he was reprimanded after being accused of illegally entering the dormitory room of a female airman, Air Force Capt. Stacy Vaughn said.
Graves was held in Colorado Tuesday on suspicion of sexual assault and burglary pending a court hearing Friday. He has not been formally charged and public defender Kathryn Hay declined to comment.
Police refused to say how they connected Graves to the crimes and declined comment on broadcast reports that authorities received anonymous letters detailing the crimes and traced them back to Graves. Larimer County Judge Edward Stirman issued a gag order in the case.
In the actual attacks, an intruder entered apartments through unlocked doors or windows in the early morning, blindfolded his victims and forced them to perform a sex act. All six assaults involved women in their 20s living in apartments near the Colorado State University campus.
Last year, Fort Collins police said DNA evidence connected the same man to all six attacks.
In Philadelphia, the Center City Rapist struck in the well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood from 1997 to 1999. Police connected six Philadelphia crimes 77 including the strangling of University of Pennsylvania student Shannon Schieber 77 through DNA but were never able to identify a suspect.
Worried that the five-year statute of limitations on rape was about to run out, Philadelphia/s district attorney filed charges in December against a suspect who was identified only by his DNA.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said she was waiting for a DNA analysis from Colorado authorities.
"They believe there is a connection between our cases and their cases, but we/re not saying yet that this is our person," Abraham said. "We need confirmation from authorities there that the DNA matches. It appears very persuasive."
In each of the Philadelphia cases, the intruder climbed through a window or balcony doors.
June Jerger, who was a neighbor of one of the Fort Collins victims and has since moved out, said she was glad a suspect was in custody.
"I/m astonished," said Jerger, who installed motion-sensor lights and kept her windows shut last summer after the attacks. "I really thought he would have moved on to another town."