Man accused of five rapes after DNA matching

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002

ANCHORAGE - After matching three DNA samples, police have accused a former Anchorage resident of raping five women since 1996.

Authorities are now looking at several other cases to see if John Hunter was involved. The five alleged victims are from Anchorage.

Hunter, 39, had been identified by three of the women as their rapist between 1996 and January of this year. Each time, he told police the women were prostitutes and that the sex was consensual, according to charging papers.

But after the third of those cases authorities collected a DNA sample. It matched not only fluids found on the victim, but also DNA samples from two other unsolved Anchorage cases, in 1997 and 1998.

Anchorage police traced Hunter to Houston, Texas, where he was arrested on Wednesday. He waived extradition and was returned to Anchorage, where he was arraigned Sunday on five counts of first-degree sexual assault. Bail was set at $250,000 cash. He was being held on that bail at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility on Monday.

The DNA match gave prosecutors a very powerful tool to present to a jury, said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Bachman.

The rapes occurred when women agreed to get in the car with Hunter, usually late at night, according to the charging documents. He would then drive the woman to an isolated area, rape her and then return her to near where he originally picked them up, police said.

Hunter had served eight years in prison for an Indiana rape in 1983, according to prosecutors.

The Alaska DNA database is becoming more useful in linking suspects to old cases, said Chris Beheim, administrator for the Alaska system, which is linked to a national database.

Workers at the state crime lab in Anchorage are working through "quite a backlog of unsolved cases," he said.

Alaskans convicted of felony crimes against people have been required to provide a DNA sample since 1996, and convicted burglars were added last September.

The state DNA database now has about 3,000 entries, while the national register now contains nearly three quarters of a million DNA profiles, Beheim said.

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