DNA catches up with Weymouth church rape-case suspect

| September 22, 2010

WEYMOUTH — The long strands of DNA have tied a former Weymouth man to the 1995 rape of a 17-year-old girl in the rectory of St. Albert the Great Church.

William Edward Burton III, 41, who is now serving a life term in prison in Maryland after being convicted of two brutal rapes there, was indicted by a Norfolk County grand jury on Tuesday on two counts of aggravated rape, one count of kidnapping and one count of attempted murder by strangulation.

“This is exactly what the CODIS DNA database is in place to do,” District Attorney William Keating said after the indictment was filed in Norfolk Superior Court. “This was a tremendously violent and disturbing attack.

“That evidence was collected as part of a rape kit and preserved,” Keating said. “Now the evidence from the time of that crime has been linked to this defendant’s DNA.”

Keating said the statute of limitations would have expired Oct. 2 had Burton not left Massachusetts. Since he is imprisoned in Maryland, he is now eligible to be brought back to Massachusetts for trial, the district attorney’s office said.

Weymouth police and State Police working in the district attorney’s office have been pursuing the investigation since last spring.

“We became aware of the potential match in the spring and have been waiting for the additional forensic testing needed to proceed,” Keating said in a statement.

Weymouth police Detective Capt. James Mullin said a Weymouth police detective went to Maryland in April to obtain a sample of Burton’s DNA.

On Oct. 2, 1995, the 17-year-old Weymouth girl was working at a desk at St. Albert’s rectory at about 8 p.m., when she heard a noise, went to investigate and found a man with a towel on his head, police said at the time.

He grabbed her by the waist, put the towel around her head and a hand over her mouth, started pulling her towards the dining room, then changed course and forced her downstairs to the basement.

The teen told police that she screamed and struggled to get away, but the man threatened to hit and kill her. The man raped her, stuffed a sock in her mouth, tied her wrists and feet with her shoe laces, and eventually fled via a rear door, she told police.

The girl freed herself and ran upstairs to the second floor, where a priest who was on the telephone didn’t hear her scream.

The victim, who had been filling in for another worker at the rectory, described her assailant as a man in his 20s, 6 feet tall with short, sandy-colored hair and hazel brown eyes. He had a thin muscular build and was wearing a teal green T-shirt and blue jeans.

In March, a judge in Maryland sentenced Burton to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to rape, attempted murder, sodomy and kidnapping. The conviction followed a June 20, 2009, attack in Salisbury, Md., that left a woman in a coma for more than a week.

In February, Burton was convicted in another Maryland case after another woman accused him of kidnapping and raping her.

 

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