DNA from abandoned cigar leads to arrest of man in 1988 Virginia rape case

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Fairfax County police have arrested a 61-year-old man in connection with the 1988 rape of a woman in the Baileys Crossroads area after comparing a recent fingerprint recording and DNA sample to recovered evidence over 30 years ago.

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Police have charged George Thomas Jr. with two counts of rape, one count of buggery and one count of kidnapping.

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“In this case, justice is delayed, but justice is not denied,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a news conference about the arrest on Tuesday.

Major Ed O’Carroll said the incident happened at 5195 Leesburg Pike, when two men approached a then 22-year-old woman and attacked her.

The woman was forced into her vehicle and driven by the men to a remote location in northern Virginia, where she was raped, O’Carroll said. He said the men then drove her to another location and raped her again. The victim was able to flee in his car, police said.

Fairfax County police collected forensic evidence, including fingerprints found on the car. Sketches of potential suspects were also created, O’Carroll said. There were no DNA matches in the case for decades.

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A sketch of one of the two men wanted in a 1988 rape in Virginia.

“Then a pause comes. A shrewd FCPD fingerprint examiner matched a fingerprint found on the victim’s vehicle to a fingerprint on a new arrest record unrelated to the city of Alexandria that appeared on file,” O’Carroll said.

Gregory Allen Thomas, the man in that 2020 Alexandria case, has since died, O’Carroll said, though officials believe he was one of the men involved in the case.

But detectives learned he had an older brother: George Thomas Jr. O’Carroll said detectives did a forensic analysis of evidence on a cigar George Thomas had recently thrown away and found he was was a direct DNA match to evidence collected in the 1988 case.

“He may have smoked his last cigar,” O’Carroll said.

Fingerprints found on the victim's car in a 1988 rape in Virginia led to a suspect, who has since died.
Fingerprints found on the victim’s car in a 1988 rape in Virginia led to a suspect, who has since died.

Dick Cline, a detective on the case who retired in 2007, told the conference he was grateful the case was closed.

“It’s gratifying that even though it’s over 30 years later…it’s a blessing,” Cline said. “It is a blessing from above.”

Thomas was taken to Montgomery County Jail after being arrested at a subway station, but will be transported to Fairfax County Jail. He was denied bail. No lawyer could be immediately located for him.


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