NYPD makes arrest in serial rape case

September 21, 2009 2:27:37 PM PDT
A 21-year-old man is accused in a string of rapes in Upper Manhattan after he was linked by DNA evidence. Police have charged Vincent Heyward with rape and related offenses in connection with four incidents in Upper Manhattan.

Heyward's DNA, according to detectives, is a match in all four cases.

"The fact that they caught him so fast, that's kind of amazing," student Sarah Hart said.

For five weeks, women in Hamilton Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods have been terrorized.

They worried about their own safety after victims were attacked in elevators, alleyways and their own homes.

"I attend City College here and I walk home usually every night. I started taking the school bus just because I didn't want to be on the street after dark," Pauline Johnson said.

As women took precautions, a sketch of the suspect was plastered around the area.

On Sunday afternoon, officers stopped Heyward walking along Edgecombe Avenue, near the building where he lived. The location is within blocks of one of his victims.

His arrest is a huge relief for women in the area.

'I''m glad that they got the guy because we need our streets to be safer and I don't think it's fair that we can't come out at night and just be safe," Deidre Reed said.

"Relieved. Utterly relieved. Now, I don't walk around staring at everybody like they're possible perpetrators," Mary Davis said.

Police say they took DNA samples from about 10 different people and followed up nearly 100 tips before zeroing in on the suspect.

The rapist struck four times since Aug. 1. All four attacks took place within a 14-block stretch in Upper Manhattan.

Police say the most recent attack occurred Sept. 7 when the rapist climbed through a 28-year-old woman's bathroom window.

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