W.va. Police Investigate Howard Rape Suspect

March 10, 1991|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff writer

A former West Virginia man charged this week in a series of area rape cases is being investigated in several other sex crimes, some of which occurred in his hometown 10 years ago, police officials say.

Michael D. Armstead, 31, a railway car inspector and a suspect in two Howard County rapes, lived in Fairmont, W.Va., in the summer of 1981,when a masked man raped five women, said Fairmont police Lt. Ted Offutt.

Armstead has not been charged in any of the West Virginia cases. Fairmont police have begun DNA tests on evidence to try to find the rapist.

In each of the Fairmont and Howard County cases, the victims reported they were attacked by an articulate intruder and the assailant covered his trail, investigators said.

Armstead, who recentlyhad been living at the Ritchie Motel in Brooklyn, has been charged with a May 1989 rape in Marriottsville and a Jan. 29 rape of an Ellicott City woman. Both women were home alone when a masked man entered the house, police said.

Howard County police also have charged Armstead with six counts of burglary stemming from crimes that occurred since May 1989.

In Anne Arundel County, where police referred to the suspect during the investigation as the "North County rapist," Armstead has been charged with three rapes that occurred in 1989 and 1990.

In an 11-page court affidavit, the rapist in many of the cases is described by victims as being "well-spoken and articulate," often speaking about what he intended to do and why he felt the women shouldhave intercourse with him.

Court records indicate that in two of the cases the intruder attempted to convince the victims that their husbands "were having an affair with his wife." One of the victims, anAnne Arundel County woman, was believed raped twice by the same man,in January 1989 and September 1990, court records said.

Howard County police Detective Glenn Hansen said Armstead also is being investigated in one other rape and six other burglaries here. Baltimore County police also wish to question Armstead about a recent rape in thatcounty, Hansen said.

"In all the cases, the burglar or rapist wore gloves and often was very methodical about the way he did his crimes," Hansen said. "He was very good at not leaving any clues behind."

Armstead was arrested on March 1 by Anne Arundel police, who cornered him after responding to a burglary in Linthicum. Police used dogsto track the suspect to an apartment complex.

Searches of Armstead's home have turned up evidence to be used in some of the cases, although police have not identified what was found.

Armstead has no previous arrests for sexual offenses, Hansen said. He is being held with no bond at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center.

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