Memories Of Rapes Resurface
Sunday, May 8, 2005
The glaring man stood at the bus stop, 92 paces from the young woman's front door. She could feel his eyes on her as she walked home that October day, and something about his aura -- "repellent," she would call it later -- inspired fear. So instead of walking into her snug two-bedroom Chevy Chase home, she got in her car and started the engine.
The glaring man watched as she drove away.
"I somehow thought that would trick him into thinking I didn't live there," the woman, who now lives in Bethesda, said in a recent interview, describing the weeks leading up to her November 1987 rape.
To this day, she doesn't know if the stranger at the bus stop was the man who raped her, staking out the neighborhood. But she has always strongly suspected it.
What if she had just kept walking that day? Would he never have connected her to the house? Would she be free from the awful memories of the man in the ski mask who jimmied a window and held a knife to her throat as he raped her?
All are questions that never go away but also, she knows, can never be answered. For the victims of the so-called Silver Spring rapist, there are a lot of those. But one central mystery in the four-year string of rapes that terrorized the area may have been answered last week, when police arrested a suspect. Authorities said a 30-year-old sample of DNA connects a man known as Clarence Williams to rapes that spanned at least 20 years and three states.
Williams, also known as Fletcher Worrell, was charged in New York City late last month with two attacks, in 1973 and 1974.
Williams's DNA matched that from at least nine attacks attributed to the Silver Spring rapist between 1987 and 1991, along with two assaults in Morris County, N.J. Police said he is a suspect in as many as 21 assaults in Montgomery.
Williams's attorney, Michael F. Rubin, has said Williams is "maintaining his innocence."
The Bethesda woman, along with a woman who was raped in 1991 and now lives near Minneapolis, agreed to describe their attacks for The Washington Post, with the understanding that The Post generally does not identify the victims of sexual assault.
'Is It Him?'
The attack on the Bethesda woman, on Nov. 5, 1987, came at the end of a series of rapes that summer. Then a freelance writer and editor, she had seen reports of the others in the news and knew that some had happened frighteningly close to her home.