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Life sentence given to serial rapist pleading guilty to 1991 Metro attacks

Michael F. Thomson, 65, of Montross, VA pleaded guilty to multiple rape, attempted rape charges for attacking women leaving the East Falls Church Metro Station.

ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. — Editor's Note: The video above is from a 2019 investigation into the backlog of untested rape kits in Virginia.

A Virginia man pleaded guilty to multiple rape charges from 1991 where women were attacked leaving a Metro station. Michael F. Thomson, 65, was sentenced to life in prison plus 56 years for two rapes at gunpoint and an attempted rape.  

Between January and December 1991, Arlington police investigated a series of rapes or attempted rapes on women leaving the East Falls Church Metro who were approached by an unknown man with a gun. Three cases were linked by DNA and a fourth was being investigated due to the case similarities. 

On Jan. 17, 1991, a woman was attacked on Little Falls Road, while walking home from the Metro, and raped at gunpoint in the grass between two houses before the suspect ran away, police said. 

According to police, another woman was attacked on Feb. 13, 1991 leaving the Metro station and walking to her car parked on N. Tuckahoe Street. The suspect walked up next to her, showed a gun and forced her to the side of a house where he raped her before running away. 

On March 6, 1991, police said a woman was attacked on Lee Highway while walking home by a suspect who alleged to have a gun. Police said he forced her behind a house and told her to take her clothes off, before pointing the gun at her head and telling her to be quiet.

"The suspect then asked the victim if she wanted him to leave and when she said yes, he fled the scene on foot," a police press release said. 

On Dec. 2, 1991, a woman was approached by a man with a gun while walking to her car on the 6100 block of N. 22nd Street, but police said when the woman screamed, the man ran away and fled the scene in a car. When he ran away, police said he dropped a baseball hat he was wearing.

RELATED: Suspect arrested in unsolved 1991 Metro rapes, Arlington police say

RELATED: ‘It just illustrates how important it is for every kit to be tested’ | Testing of rape kit backlog leads to criminal case in Virginia

In 2017, the cold case unit reviewed the case files and resubmitted DNA evidence for additional analysis including phenotyping and genetic genealogy. DNA from the baseball hat the man involved in the Dec. 2 attack was wearing was linked to the Jan. 17 and Feb. 13 rapes. 

“Our office is grateful that ACPD committed expertise, dedication, and resources to this cold case and provided us with the tools to prosecute it,” said Commonwealth's Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “The survivors of Michael Thomson's crimes included a teenager and a young mother of two. Thirty years is a long time for them to wait for justice but I hope his sentencing brings them a measure of peace.”

Judge Louise DiMatteo sentenced Thomson Friday to life in prison on one count of rape; 50 years on a second count of rape;10 years with eight suspended on one count of attempted rape; and two years each on two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of the rapes. His sentence is to be served concurrently.

“Every member of our community should be able to safely walk home without fear of violent attacks like those committed by Michael Thomson,” Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn said. “While nothing can fully restore his survivors’ sense of security, I hope this sentence serves as a powerful message that we will not waiver in our pursuit to hold sexual predators accountable for their actions." 

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