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In search for Christine Mirzayan’s killer, police seek online help

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More than a decade after a young scientist was sexually assaulted and beaten to death in Georgetown, police believe that her killer is linked to eight sexual attacks in Montgomery County, and they are launching a Web site they hope will help catch him.

Christine Mirzayan, 28, was slain Aug. 1, 1998, in woods near Canal Road as she walked home from dinner at a friend’s house. More than a year ago, the suspect’s DNA was connected to eight other attacks that took place between 1991 and 1998 in the North Potomac area, police said.

Police have a composite sketch of their suspect. Other than that, they say, they’re hitting a dead end.

“Where has this guy been? Is he dead? Is he locked up somewhere? Has he changed his MO?” said Capt. Michael Farish of the D.C. police’s homicide unit. “The odds are that a guy who sexually assaults nine women — killing the last one — is not going to stop cold turkey with that kind of violence against women.”

Police plan to launch the Web site in coming weeks in hopes that someone will see the sketch, recognize the suspect and turn him in — much as how the alleged “East Coast Rapist” was found.

“We saw how that worked for” police working on the East Coast rape case, Farish said. “They had success with that.”

Aaron H. Thomas was arrested earlier this year, 14 years after he allegedly began sexually assaulting women along the East Coast, including the Washington area.

He was arrested after police launched a media campaign, posted composite sketches of the attacker on digital billboards from Virginia to Rhode Island, and created a Web site that detailed the attacks.

Police were able to connect Mirzayan’s killer to the person who committed the rapes in Montgomery through a national DNA database.

Mirzayan was newly married and working as a summer intern at the National Research Council when she was killed. Her attacker dragged her into the woods and assaulted her. A man heard her scream for help, but when he called out to her and asked if she was okay, she did not respond, Farish said.

Another witness saw a man leave the woods minutes after the first witness heard the scream. That witness helped police make the composite sketch.

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