Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have arrested a man accused in a string of rapes in 1979 known then as the ski mask rapist cases.
Police said DNA evidence linked 62-year-old Jerry Lee Brooks to the decades-old crimes. He was arrested Tuesday in Surfside Beach, S.C., just south of Myrtle Beach.
Last December, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Departments Sexual Assault Cold Case Unit began investigating a series of rapes that happened in Charlotte in 1979. Police said the cases were similar but that investigators 30 years ago had not been able to identify a suspect.
Investigators then referred to the rapes as the ski mask rapist cases, police said.
When police reopened the cases last year, they found that DNA evidence was available in several of the cases. That evidence was sent for analysis, which revealed the cases were linked. A match from a DNA database led investigators to Brooks, police said.
On Monday, a Mecklenburg County grand jury indicted Brooks on 13 charges: three counts of rape, two counts of a crime against nature, two counts of breaking and entering, two counts of attempted armed robbery, two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of burglary and armed robbery.
He is being held in an Horry County, S.C., jail awaiting extradition to Charlotte. His address was not immediately available.
Police said they were assisted in their investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division and Surfside Beach police.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police spokesman Officer Robert Fey said investigators will examine other rape cases from the late 1970s and early 1980s to determine whether Brooks might be held responsible for more sex assaults.
North Carolina court records show Brooks was convicted in the 1980s and 1990s on charges including breaking and entering, safecracking, common law robbery and embezzlement. He was released from federal custody in February 2005 after serving time for armed bank robbery.
Staff researcher Maria David contributed.