The brazen sexual assaults struck fear across two Virginia counties in the ’90s.
In one attack, a masked man with a gun held four women hostage in their Reston apartment, forcing them to perform sex acts on him as he filmed them with a camcorder, a prosecutor said.
In another, the assailant waited for a woman in Burke to return home before assaulting her at gunpoint, police said. When the woman’s roommate showed up, he forced himself on her, too, police said.
In all, there were at least 17 cases across Fairfax and Prince William counties that may have been carried out by the same attacker, authorities said at the time. The perpetrator came to be known as the “Centreville rapist.”
As the years slid into decades, it seemed unlikely anyone would ever face charges.
That was until March 7, 2017.
On that day, an informant met with Fairfax County detectives, offering a chilling story, according to a newly returned search warrant.
A man named Jude Lovchik had admitted eight years earlier that he had carried out “several” rapes in Fairfax during the 1990s, the document says. Lovchik, the informant said, described the attacks in graphic detail and even showed the person the mask he used.
The court documents detail how detectives used the crucial tip, then stakeouts and even trash in what could be a critical break in one of the region’s worst string of unsolved sex crimes after more than 20 years.
To date, Lovchik, 50, has been charged with the 1995 attack on the four roommates in Reston. Police are investigating whether he is tied to the others that remain unsolved.
“The [informant] described specific sex acts that Jude Lovchik said occurred during the assaults . . . as well as attempts he made to destroy evidence relevant to those specific sex acts,” Fairfax County Police Detective Matthew Horn wrote in the search warrant.
The search warrant does not detail why the confidential informant came forward but says the person had known Lovchik since 2008. Horn wrote in the search warrant that the informant’s knowledge was consistent with details about the cases that were not made public.
After receiving the tip, detectives from Fairfax police’s fugitive squad put Lovchik’s home in Springfield under surveillance in April and May 2017, according to the search warrant.
Detectives pulled items out of Lovchik’s trash and recycling bins that appeared as though they might have traces of DNA, the search warrant said. The items were sent to Virginia’s forensics lab for analysis.
The tests determined the DNA collected from the items matched that of DNA from biological material recovered from the mouth of one of the victims in the Reston attack, according to the search warrant.
Less than a week later, in early September, detectives wrote that officers observed Lovchik loading his belongings into a moving van.
Lovchik had recently gone through a contentious divorce and a battle with his wife over custody of their 3-year-old daughter, according to court records. The couple officially split in July 2017.
“Good morning Florida!” Lovchik wrote on his Facebook page in September. “Looking forward to starting a new life and career here.”
It was not to be. The next month, Lovchik was arrested at his new home in Ocala, Fla., and charged in connection with the Reston attack.
During a preliminary hearing in the case last week, one of the victims offered harrowing testimony about the 1995 sexual assault. The woman told the court that the perpetrator crept into her apartment in the middle of the night and then herded her and her three roommates into a bedroom at gunpoint.
The women, who were in their 20s at the time, were forced to strip, blindfolded and made to lie on a bed, the woman told a judge. The attacker then forced them to perform sex acts on each other before assaulting them, with the camera running.
“I thought he was going to kill us,” the woman testified.
Afterward, the man tried to erase any trace of evidence. He vacuumed the bedroom where the assault occurred and removed the vacuum cleaner bag, the woman testified. The man also forced the woman to drink Gatorade to wash any biological evidence out of her mouth and smashed her roommates’ cellphones.
But a sexual assault nurse was able to remove trace amounts of DNA from the woman’s mouth, according to testimony. It would be key to potentially cracking the case 22 years later.
Police filed the new search warrant to examine an external hard drive owned by Lovchik. Investigators thought it might contain a digital copy of the recording of the Reston attack. The search warrant does not state what precisely was recovered from the hard drive.
Fairfax County public defender Dawn Butorac, who is representing Lovchik, declined to comment. The Reston case has been forwarded to a grand jury, which will decide whether to indict.