District Attorney Announces Arrest in 2013 Cold Case Sexual Assault

ACTON – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Acton Chief of Police James Cogan announced today that, nine years after a young woman was sexually assaulted at knifepoint at a commuter rail station in Acton, an investigative breakthrough has resulted in the identification and arrest of Christopher Aldrich, 28, of Lunenberg.  He was arraigned today on the charge of Aggravated Rape in the Concord District Court. Judge Joseph Hurley ordered that the defendant be held without bail after a dangerousness hearing. The next date in this case is March 22, 2023.

“Today marks an important milestone in the work of the Cold Case Unit that I launched in 2019. Thanks to the great work of that team, we are changing the narrative of what defines “cold case” and at the same time sending a strong message to victims and perpetrators of sexual violence in this County.  The mere passage of time does nothing to affect our resolve to pursue justice in these cases. We know the terrible personal violation and the continuing trauma that is experienced by survivors of sexual assault crimes.  We want to give hope to those whose cases have not been resolved. We do not give up on these cases. We are committed to using every tool available to us – not just advances in technology – but creative diligent investigative work to bring these cases to resolution,” said District Attorney Ryan.

“I would like to give recognition to the continuous and diligent work performed by Acton Police Officers and Detectives who responded to this horrific incident in 2013 and never gave up trying to find the perpetrator. With the assistance of Detectives from the MBTA Transit Police, many members of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office as well as the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab, the victim now knows who is alleged to have committed this horrifying crime. I hope this provides some relief to the victim and her family,” said Chief Cogan.

On the evening of June 18, 2013, a 22-year-old woman, was waiting alone at the South Acton Commuter Rail Station when she was approached by a white male stranger.  When she completed a phone call, the man allegedly displayed a knife, threatened to hurt her with it, and raped her at knifepoint. After the assault, he forced her to throw away her phone and fled the scene on foot.

After the assailant fled, the woman found her phone and called 911. The Police responded within minutes, but could not locate the assailant and there were no surveillance cameras in the area.

The victim was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was treated by a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Forensic evidence collected from this examination was sent to the State Police Crime Laboratory, whose chemists were able to develop a detailed DNA profile of the attacker. That profile was compared with state and national offender databases without success.  For more than eight years, despite sustained investigative efforts by members of the Acton Police Department and the Transit Police, detectives were unable to identify the perpetrator.

In 2021, as part of the ongoing investigation into this case, Middlesex prosecutors and police authorities contacted Parabon NanoLabs to conduct Forensic Genetic Genealogy analysis.  This technology can analyze aspects of a DNA profile to identify distant relatives of the source, in order to develop a pool of potential suspects. Through these efforts, Christopher Aldrich was identified as a person of interest.

On November 9, 2022, Christopher Aldrich was involved in a one-car collision, when his Ford Crown Victoria struck a utility pole on School Street in Acton.  Acton Police officers responded, conducted an on-scene investigation, and lawfully seized a number of items from Aldrich’s vehicle, including an open bottle of the alcohol, Fireball. Aldrich was treated at a nearby hospital for the injuries he sustained in the collision.

At the crash, police officers were able to collect additional items with the defendant’s DNA. Crime Laboratory personnel subsequently swabbed the items, and were able to develop a major male profile from each item.  The profiles were a match to each another, and to the offender profile collected from the victim of the 2013 sexual assault.  The expected frequency occurrence of this profile in the population was determined to be less than 1 in 3 sextillion individuals (1 in 3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).

This case was investigated by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s Cold Case Unit, Detectives from the Acton Police Department, the MBTA Transit Police; Massachusetts State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office; the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section; the Westminster Police Department; the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory; and our private partners at Parabon NanoLabs.

The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney David Solet, Chief of the Cold Case Unit. The Victim Witness Advocate is Susie Marshall.

These charges are allegations and all suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Watch the press conference here.