A 25-year-old Frederick, Md., man was arrested yesterday on a charge of raping a woman in the Aspen Hill area and Montgomery County police said they had evidence linking him to other sexual assaults in the series that has terrorized that community.
At a press conference at police headquarters in Rockville last night, the suspect was identified as Timothy Joseph Buzbee, who works for a Gaithersburg surveying company. Police said he was charged with rape in connection with an attack that took place in July 1981 -- one of 16 assaults committed over an 18-month period.
"The Montgomery County police are responsible for the apprehension of the Aspen Hill rapist," Police Chief Bernard Crooke said at the news conference.
Buzbee appeared before Commissioner Bernie Baumiller for a bond hearing early this morning and was ordered held without bond. Baumiller said Buzbee would be held in the Montgomery County Detention Center on Seven Locks Road.
Crooke said the investigation that led to the arrest involved a complex, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week surveillance, and that Buzbee was watched for "more than a couple of weeks."
In addition, he said that Buzbee "fell within the range of the very broad descriptions" given by the victims.
Police said victims gave similar descriptions of assailants whose manner of operation was invariably the same. But the vagueness of that description -- a white man between 18 and 25 years old, probably with brown hair, who hid his face with a ski mask or stocking and wore gloves -- gave investigators little help.
In addition, most victims, who ranged in age from 11 to 38, were blindfolded or had their heads turned so they could not see their attacker.
Chief Crooke gave no other details about the arrest or the investigation. In an interview afterward, he told reporters that police had evidence linking Buzbee to some of the other attacks, but declined to describe the evidence and indicated that police did not have evidence in all of the cases.
Police said Buzbee is married and a father and has no police record.
In addition to the July 1981 rape case, police said Buzbee was also charged yesterday with robbery and assault and battery in an incident that occurred in Silver Spring in 1980.
One investigator said last night that Buzbee was arrested about 6 p.m. shortly after leaving work in Gaithersburg.
Buzbee's arrest followed an intensive investigation by county police who said they had assigned top priority to the 18-month series of 16 sexual attacks.
Police, who said last month they were far from a solution to the attacks, said they were seeking a man familiar with the Aspen Hill area who studied his victims and carefully planned his attacks, which came between dusk and midnight. The most recent of the attacks came Oct. 2.
The attacks, which began in March 1981, prompted stepped-up security precautions among the residents of the $120,000 to $140,000 homes in the four-square-mile area.