Bottle of Fireball helps link man to 2013 cold case rape, Massachusetts officials say
Ten years after a woman was sexually assaulted while waiting alone at a train station, a man has been arrested, Massachusetts prosecutors said.
Genetic genealogy testing and evidence, including a bottle of Fireball, gathered at a crash site nearly 10 years later helped confirm Christopher Aldrich, 28, of Lunenburg, as a suspect in the 2013 rape in Acton, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office said in a Feb. 21 news release.
“We do not give up on these cases,” District Attorney Marian Ryan said in the release. “We are committed to using every tool available to us – not just advances in technology – but creative diligent investigative work to bring these cases to resolution.”
Decade-old sexual assault
On June 18, 2013, a 22-year-old woman was on a phone call waiting at the South Acton Commuter Rail Station, prosecutors said. When she got off the call, a man approached her.
He “displayed a knife, threatened to hurt her with it and raped her at knifepoint,” the district attorney’s office said.
After the assault, the man made the woman toss her phone, then he ran off, prosecutors said.
The woman found her phone and called 911, prosecutors said. Police arrived “within minutes” but did not find a suspect.
There were no surveillance cameras in the area, the district attorney’s office said.
Despite getting a “detailed DNA profile” from an examination following the 2013 attack, a suspect was not identified after comparing the profile with “state and national offender databases,” prosecutors said.
Genetic genealogy and Fireball bottle leads to suspect
In 2021, the district attorney’s office and police contacted a lab for forensic genetic genealogy testing, prosecutors said. Aldrich was identified as a potential suspect.
Genetic genealogy uses DNA testing coupled with “traditional genealogical methods” to create “family history profiles,” according to the Library of Congress. With genealogical DNA testing, researchers can determine if and how people are biologically related.
Aldrich was in a single-car collision in November 2022, and he crashed his Ford Crown Victoria into a utility pole in Acton, prosecutors said.
After arriving, Acton police lawfully took a number of items from Aldrich’s car, “including an open bottle of the alcohol, Fireball,” prosecutors said.
The gathered evidence was sent to a crime laboratory to develop a DNA profile, prosecutors said.
The DNA profile matched the profile from the 2013 sexual assault, according to the district attorney’s office.
Aldrich was arrested and charged with aggravated rape, the district attorney’s office said. He is being held without bail and is expected to appear in court March 22.
Acton is about 25 miles northwest of Boston.