Genetic genealogy IDs suspect in 1989 rapes, man now at large: DA

NEW YORK — Massachusetts authorities are searching for a newly identified suspect in two rapes from 1989 -- a crime the Framingham police chief said "haunted the Framingham community for decades."

Stephen Paul Gale, 71, who was identified through genetic genealogy, is wanted on four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery, the Middlesex District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

The crime unfolded on the morning of Dec. 27, 1989, when a man armed with a gun went into a Framingham clothing store and confronted two employees -- women ages 18 and 29, prosecutors said.

The man forced the 29-year-old to give him money from her purse, from a locked safe and from the store's register, prosecutors said. He forced the 18-year-old woman to lock the doors and put a sign out front saying the store would be opening late, prosecutors said.

The man then sexually assaulted both women at gunpoint, prosecutors said.

The suspect's DNA was collected from the crime scene. It was later uploaded to CODIS, the national law enforcement DNA database, but no match was found, prosecutors said.

In 2022, investigators began working with Parabon Nanolabs to try to solve the case through genetic genealogy, prosecutors said.

Genetic genealogy takes an unknown suspect's DNA left at a crime scene and identifies it using family members who voluntarily submit DNA samples to a database. Police can then create a much larger family tree than if they only used databases like CODIS. Genetic genealogy first made headlines in 2018 when it was used to find the Golden State Killer.

Massachusetts investigators later obtained DNA samples from Gale's relatives, which confirmed Gale was their suspect, prosecutors said.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said investigators spoke to both victims on Tuesday. She said they expressed gratitude for the police work done in their case and were hopeful that Gale will be brought to justice.

Framingham Police Chief Lester Baker in a statement on Tuesday thanked the victims for their bravery, saying, "Without their ongoing help and courage, we would never have been able to finally have a break in this horrific crime."

"It’s been a long time coming -- over 30 years now -- and I am grateful to now have the opportunity to finally tell them -- and their loved ones -- that all of their efforts have not been in vain," Baker said.

The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to Gale’s arrest, prosecutors said. Anyone with information about Gale's whereabouts is asked to call the Framingham Police Department at 508-532-5923.

Gale, who has ties to organized crime, has lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, prosecutors said. He's used aliases including: Stephen Pisarcik, John Rossi, Paul Costa, Paul DeRosa, Paul DiCarli, Paul Joseph DeCarlo, Steve Miner, Paul Williams and Paul Ptaszynski, according to prosecutors.

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