The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Man who confessed to his wife is convicted in 1995 sexual assaults of four Virginia roommates

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Kathrin Lovchik’s future husband told her she was the first person with whom he could share the secret that was “eating him up,” she testified. He showed her a black ski mask that had been in a bedroom closet and said he had raped about 20 women. He told her that he was the “Fairfax rapist,” she said.

The 2009 confession was shocking, but the woman told a Fairfax County, Va., courtroom that it also came with a disturbing request: Jude Lovchik wanted to reenact the sexual assaults to get the desire “out of him.”

Kathrin Lovchik obliged by standing outside their Springfield home one day, she testified. Jude Lovchik clapped a hand over her mouth, put an airgun to her head and barked at her to be quiet.

He marched Kathrin into the house and tied her to a chair at the kitchen table, she testified. He then performed a sex act on her.

The chilling testimony, some of which was not heard by the jury, was a centerpiece of a two-week trial that resulted Monday in Jude Lovchik’s conviction in a 1995 sexual assault on four roommates in their Reston apartment. A jury will sentence Lovchik on Tuesday in Fairfax Circuit Court.

Lovchik, 50, has not been charged with other crimes, but authorities are investigating whether he might be responsible for at least 17 sexual assaults across Fairfax and Prince William counties in the early and mid-1990s. The suspect came to be known as the “Centreville rapist.”

“He said I can’t Google the ‘Fairfax rapist’ because it could be followed back to the house,” Kathrin Lovchik testified about Jude Lovchik’s 2009 confession. “He said I can’t tell anyone — I will end him.”

But eventually she did.

Kathrin and Jude Lovchik were wed in 2010 and had a daughter, but by 2016, their marriage was falling apart. After losing custody of the child during the contentious divorce, Kathrin Lovchik told authorities the story that Jude Lovchik had told her nearly a decade earlier. An investigation followed that eventually linked Jude Lovchik to the 1995 Reston case via DNA evidence. He was arrested last year.

All four women, who had just moved to the Reston apartment to launch careers as pharmacists, were in their early 20s at the time of the assaults 23 years ago. All four, now nearing 50, took the witness stand during the trial to describe their ordeal. They shed tears. They shook with anger. The stories were so harrowing, one juror held his hand over his mouth, while another blinked back tears as the women testified. The courtroom was hushed. The Washington Post generally does not name victims of sexual assault.

“I thought I was going to die that night,” one of the women told the jury.

The first victim testified that she was woken in the early hours of June 6, 1995, by a hand over her mouth. A man wearing a mask was leaning over her bed and holding the barrel of a gun to her head.

All of the women were eventually forced into one bedroom, they testified. They were told to lie face down on a bed. The attacker blindfolded them with bandannas and scarves from a closet.

The attacker told one of the women who was whimpering that she needed to be quiet if she wanted her roommates to live. The dread increased as the man ordered the women to disrobe.

“Take it off — everything,” the first victim testified he told them.

The man forced two of the roommates to perform sex acts on each other, the women testified. When the first victim told the attacker that he was a “sick, sick man,” he made her perform sex acts on one of her roommates.

The attacker then gave the women a choice of sex acts to perform on him, the first victim testified. One of the roommates said she peeked out from beneath her blindfold long enough to see the attacker filming one of the assaults with a camcorder.

Afterward, the man carefully covered his tracks, all of the women testified. One roommate was made to drink Ga­tor­ade to erase evidence, while the attacker vacuumed the bedroom where the assaults occurred and took the vacuum bag. He opened one of the women’s address books and told the women he would kill their friends and family if he was ever reported to police. He smashed their phones.

He then slipped away, leaving the women terrified in a bedroom. The horrific assault would go unsolved for more than two decades.

After Kathrin Lovchik went to police in 2016, Fairfax County investigators put Jude Lovchik under surveillance. Eventually, they scooped items from his garbage that appeared to contain biological material. The DNA profile that was culled produced a match with DNA in biological material found in one of the victim’s mouths.

Fairfax County public defender Dawn Butorac attacked the prosecution’s case on numerous fronts, telling the jury that Lovchik was innocent. She said Kathrin Lovchik had a motive to lie about him being a rapist because he had won custody of their daughter. She said that police were sloppy in handling key evidence and that a forensic examiner had fudged aspects of a DNA test to produce a match.

“How many mistakes do we allow when someone’s freedom is in jeopardy?” Butorac asked.

But the jury seemed to discount those arguments, finding Jude Lovchik guilty on all 17 counts, including charges of sodomy, abduction and burglary, in a matter of hours. Lovchik, who never testified, showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

The victims cried, and one woman hugged Fairfax County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jessica Greis-Edwardson as she left the courtroom. Greis-Edwardson had one phrase to describe the sexual assaults in her closing argument: a “worst nightmare.”