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Crime Scene
Posted at 03:51 PM ET, 05/21/2012

Rape suspect ordered held without bond

The suspect in at least some in a spate of high-profile rapes and sexual assaults in the Hyattsville-Mount Rainier area was ordered held without bond Monday.

Appearing via a video stream in Prince George’s County District Court, Edwin Rivas, 24, answered only “no, ma’am,” “yes, ma’am,” and “public defender” as Judge Patrice E. Lewis asked him whether he needed an interpreter, whether he understood the charges against him and what type of legal representation he would be seeking. His hair bushy and tattered, Rivas leaned forward for most of the hearing with his chin slumped toward his chest. For several seconds, he covered his face with one hand.

Rivas is facing a litany of charges — including first- and second-degree rape, sodomy and second-degree assault — in connection with two recent incidents in the Hyattsville-Mount Rainier area. Police have accused Rivas of raping a woman at knifepoint on Jan. 28 in the 3300 block of Buchanan Street in Mount Rainier, and of forcing a woman to lift her shirt on Feb. 23 in a wooded area off Jamestown Road in Hyattsville.

But Rivas is also a suspect in at least two other rapes on the Northwest Branch Hiker/Biker Trail. Those attacks, like the ones in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, were among six that occurred from late January to mid-April and sparked sparked fear and anger among those who use the trail and live in the neighborhoods and apartment complexes it connects .

The incidents occurred in three jurisdictions. Along with the Prince George’s, Mount Rainier and Hyattsville police, Metro Transit Police and Maryland-National Capital Park Police are looking into the cases.

In each incident, the victim described the assailant as a Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s, between 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-8 and weighing about 150 to 190 pounds, police said. But Rivas, police said, is not responsible for all of them.

Capt. Stanley Johnson, a Maryland-National Capital Park Police spokesman, said Saturday that investigators do not consider Rivas a suspect in a March 12 rape that occurred in the parking lot of an abandoned warehouse just off the trail. He said that the victim, a woman in her early 30s, looked at a photograph of Rivas and that “photographically, he didn’t match.”

Johnson said on Monday that detectives had interviewed Rivas as a suspect in two other attacks on the trail on March 27 and April 20, but they had not been able to connect him to those incidents. He said investigators had not yet been able to show the victims photographic lineups but would do so soon.

Monday’s court hearing shed no new light on the charges against Rivas or those that might still come. Though Lewis read aloud the formal charges against the 24-year-old, she did not address the specifics of the accusations before ordering he remain in a no bond status.

Rivas’s next court hearing is scheduled for June 15. No one appeared or spoke on his behalf at the bond hearing.

By  |  03:51 PM ET, 05/21/2012

Categories:  Matt Zapotosky, Pr. George's, Sex Crimes, From the Courthouse

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