DNA links suspect in recent Canton rape to 2007 sex assault in same area, police say

19-year-old is also suspected in two rapes in small Virginia town

February 17, 2010|By Justin Fenton | justin.fenton@baltsun.com

A 19-year-old Baltimore man, charged with raping a Canton woman after shoveling her snow in December as well as two attacks in rural Virginia, has been linked through DNA to a fourth rape that occurred in Canton in 2007.

Donald Vaughan was arrested Dec. 20 and accused of raping and slashing the throat of a Canton woman who had paid him to shovel her front sidewalk. It later emerged that Vaughan had been under juvenile supervision in Kilmarnock, Va., where he was under surveillance and suspected in two rapes there.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Virginia authorities, who assumed responsibility for Vaughan's supervision under interstate agreements, had not notified Maryland officials that Vaughan was returning or that he was a suspect in rapes there. The 2009 Canton attack occurred during a return to Baltimore for the holidays.

Now city police have charged Vaughan in a fourth attack, which court records say occurred Jan 1, 2007, in the 2700 block of Dillon St. The crime follows a pattern of break-ins and attacks that Vaughan has been accused of since a young age.

The victim was watching television in her living room when she heard a noise coming from the second floor, according to court records. She saw a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and a red bandana covering his face, who punched her in the face and knocked her down the steps, records show. He demanded money, and took a watch and $75 from her purse, police said.

The man forced her to perform various sex acts, then took her bank card and fled through a back door, records show. The check card was used at a bank, a convenience store and an ATM machine, and the victim said she later determined that several pieces of jewelry, worth about $800, had been taken from her bedroom.

Police submitted evidence and determined the assailant had entered using a spiral staircase that was outside of the residence.

On Jan. 20, city police were notified by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, which advised they had matched DNA collected from that crime scene to a sample they had taken from Vaughan in December. He was charged Feb. 2 and served with the charges on Feb. 14.

According to a law enforcement source, Vaughan had been committed to a residential facility on unrelated crimes until a judge allowed Vaughan to be released Sept. 25, 2009, to live with his mother in nearby White Stone, Va., shifting his supervision to Virginia authorities. Within two months, two violent rapes stunned the tiny community, where the police chief said he hadn't investigated a single rape complaint in 24 years.

The first attack was reported Nov. 28, when a woman in her late 60s was attacked by an intruder. Her husband, who is hard of hearing, did not know the attack was occurring. On Dec. 1, a woman in her 30s was sexually assaulted in her home.

A local Crime Stoppers program offered a $1,000 reward, but residents determined that wasn't enough. The Town Council approved $5,000, the maximum they allowed, and encouraged residents and businesses to do the same, swelling the fund to $10,000.

Local police contacted a criminal profiler, and they quickly zeroed in on Vaughan. They monitored him round the clock and took a DNA sample.

But On Dec. 16, Vaughan received permission from his Virginia probation agent to visit family for Christmas. Virginia authorities say they notified Maryland officials that he was returning, but state officials told The Sun they received a fax on the day after Vaughan had been arrested in the snow shovel incident, and only after Maryland officials say they made an inquiry.

Vaughan was arrested after police tracked a stolen cell phone to the 800 block of N. Linwood Ave., and authorities in both states say Vaughan confessed to the three attacks. At a bail review, officials said Vaughan had attempted to commit suicide in his cell at Central Booking.

The Sun has since been contacted by various women who said Vaughan had attacked them and had been prosecuted but avoided significant punishment.

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