Schenectady County

DNA test IDs rape suspect

A knifepoint rapist who had once been only a vague description has been identified through DNA analy
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A knifepoint rapist who had once been only a vague description has been identified through DNA analysis, authorities said this week.

And that man, according to the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office, is a notorious Albany rapist and murder suspect.

Darius Ashley, 32, was arraigned Thursday in Schenectady County Court on an indictment for first-degree rape. Ashley is now accused of raping a 19-year-old college student in April 2005, pulling her off Hulett Street at knifepoint.

The case had gone cold until investigators found a match on the state DNA databank. “But for the DNA databank, we would likely be in the same situation we were in 2005, not knowing who it was,” prosecutor Andra Ackerman said.

Ashley appeared in court to answer the charges, pleading innocent. He was brought here from Attica state Correctional Facility, where he is serving 25 years for a number of Albany area attacks. Ashley admitted in court he raped a 23-year-old woman in July 2005 and a 14-year-old girl in April of that year — the same month as the Hulett Street attack.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to kidnap a third victim in June 2005.

Ashley also emerged as a suspect last year in the murder of Gretchen Perham, a 14-year-old girl who was found stabbed to death and dumped in a ravine off Mount Hope Drive on May 13, 2005. Ashley has not been charged in connection with Perham’s slaying.

The Ashley DNA hit in the Schenectady case came in April of last year, Ackerman said. Further testing came back in October, backing up the original findings. It was a DNA sample Ashley provided for his previous cases that made the match.

Officials now believe Ashley was in Schenectady visiting a girlfriend, Ackerman said.

The match ended months of uncertainty for the victim.

She was attacked at around 9:30 p.m. April 18, 2005, as she walked on Hulett near Duane Avenue. She was grabbed from behind and her assailant pulled her coat over her head, holding a knife against her neck, police reported at the time.

When she struggled, he cut her cheek. He then dragged her behind a vacant house between 488 and 494 Hulett and raped her.

The man then fled. The victim went home and called police.

The young woman has been holding up well, Ackerman said. The identification of Ashley as a suspect produced a rush of emotions.

“It happened in 2005 and she’s been forced, in a sense, to relive what happened to her,” Ackerman said. “At the same time, that’s followed by a sense of relief that he’s not walking the streets, he’s behind bars.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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