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How Two Investigators Traced A Serial Rapist Following Initial Victim Disbelief

Discover the riveting story of how two determined detectives relentlessly pursued a serial rapist, overcoming initial victim disbelief to bring justice to those affected.

Vincent Bloodworth
Vincent Bloodworth
Feb 20, 20242 Shares435 Views
How Two Investigators Traced A Serial Rapist Following Initial Victim Disbelief

In August of 2008, 18-year-old Marie (whose middle name was used) made a harrowing call to Lynnwood, Washington, police, recounting a terrifying ordeal: an intruder had invaded her apartment through an open window, restraining her with her shoelaces and subjecting her to repeated acts of sexual violence at knifepoint, all while taking disturbing photographs to blackmail her into silence.

Despite initiating the investigation, the police's focus shifted, casting doubt on Marie's account. Living in subsidized housing for foster system graduates and having endured a history of abuse, Marie's demeanor and the brutality of her story led authorities to question her credibility.

Detectives Mason and Rittgarn, assigned to the case, were troubled by what they perceived as Marie's lack of emotion, pressuring her to undergo a polygraph test and insinuating consequences for her housing if she failed to comply. Fearing repercussions, Marie recanted, ultimately pleading guilty to misdemeanor false reporting.

However, Marie's nightmare was far from fabricated. Unbeknownst to the authorities, her assailant, Marc Patrick O'Leary, continued his spree, targeting at least five other women from 2008 to 2011.

In Kirkland, Washington, a 63-year-old woman reported a similar assault around the time of Marie's attack. O'Leary's reach extended to the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where his victims included a 65-year-old grandmother in Aurora, a 26-year-old engineering student in Golden, a 59-year-old woman in Westminster, and a 46-year-old artist in Lakewood.

As authorities in Lynnwood, Washington, dropped the case, two determined female detectives in Colorado took up the mantle. Detective Stacy Galbraith from Golden and Detective Edna Hendershotof the Westminster Police Department joined forces after Galbraith's husband, also a police officer, recognized similarities in the modus operandi described by victims to a recent case he had investigated.

Consistent details emerged: the pink heels forced upon victims, mandatory showers post-assault, and a distinctive egg-shaped marking on the perpetrator's leg.

Drawing on Hendershot's extensive experience and Galbraith's relentless work ethic, the duo formed a formidable team, committed to apprehending the serial offender. Despite initial challenges, including difficulties obtaining crucial evidence, they collaborated with task force members from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and the FBI.

Marc Patrick O'Leary, an Army veteran, meticulously planned his attacks, meticulously concealing DNA evidence and ensuring each victim resided in a different jurisdiction, complicating coordination among investigators.

However, Galbraith's discovery of a single footprint near a Lakewood crime scene provided a breakthrough, leading back to one of O'Leary's shoes. Meanwhile, Hendershot's keen eye uncovered honeycomb marks on a railing left by one of O'Leary's gloves.

Their tenacity and attention to detail ultimately paid off, as they pieced together the evidence necessary to bring the elusive serial predator to justice.

Ultimately, detectives traced Marc Patrick O'Leary through his 1993 Mazda pickup truck, which had been flagged as suspicious during one of his stalking episodes. Surveillance footage near the scene of one victim's assault matched the vehicle, leading investigators to O'Leary's doorstep. A search of his residence uncovered damning evidence: a pink Sony camera used to document his crimes, a firearm, and keepsakes from each victim, including Marie, stored in his closet.

Facing overwhelming evidence, O'Leary pleaded guilty in both Colorado and Washington, receiving a staggering 347 and a half-year sentence without the possibility of parole. His conviction served as a pivotal moment, spotlighting the dangers of skepticism towards rape victims within the criminal justice system.

Marie's ordeal became the subject of investigative journalism, notably in T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong's Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, "An Unbelievable Story of Rape." Their work shed light on the low rates of false rape allegations, contrasting with Marie's unjust treatment by authorities. A subsequent investigation by the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office revealed a concerning trend of dismissing rape reports, particularly in Lynnwood, where 21.3 percent were labeled as "unfounded" from 2008 to 2012.

Further examination uncovered the coercion Marie faced in retracting her statements, attributed to her traumatic history, common inconsistencies in victim accounts, and fear of losing housing support. Her misdemeanor conviction was overturned, and she received a settlement after suing the city of Lynnwood, providing some semblance of justice.

Today, Marie, now a married mother, strives to move forward, but her story remains a sobering reminder of the critical need for thorough investigations and genuine support for survivors.

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