Social Media Campaign Tried in “Potomac River Rapist” Case from 90s


Whoever the Potomac River Rapist is — if he's still alive — he probably attacked nine women in in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1990s. Eight were raped, including a 28-year-old biochemist he beat to death with a slab of rock. The other victim fought off a rape attempt until the assailant cracked her skull with a radio and fled. Detectives have his DNA, but they don’t know his name, says the Washington Post.

Inspired by a digital public-information blitz that led to an arrest in the notorious “East Coast rapist” case in March, the FBI and other agencies announced a similar campaign using the website It is probably a harbinger of more such efforts as police agencies increasingly use new media to hunt elusive suspects. The site includes newscastlike video accounts of the nine cases, a photo gallery, a podcast, a timeline of the assaults with a map of where they occurred, reward information, phone numbers to call with tips and a sketch of a man being sought for questioning. “This is something we've tried, and has worked, four or five times across the country in the past year,” said the FBI’s Lindsay Godwin. The effort to identify the Potomac River rapist also will employ iTunes podcasts as well as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

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