A man believed to be the “ski mask rapist” pleaded guilty Thursday to raping three women more than 30 years ago, according to the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.
Jerry Lee Brooks, 63, was sentenced to life in prison by Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin after entering a guilty plea on three counts of first-degree rape, officials said.
Brooks’ trial was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, according to the DA’s office, but officials accepted his plea so victims would not have to relive their assaults.
In March, August and September of 1979, three Charlotte women were raped at knife-point by a man wearing a ski mask, officials said, noting the assailant became widely known as the “ski mask rapist.”
In two cases, the rapist entered the home through an unlocked door while the occupants were away and waited till the women returned to rape them, according to the DA’s office. In the third case, the rapist entered a home, found the resident inside and raped her.
DNA was collected at each of the scenes of the 1979 rapes, officials said, but the case went cold till 2012.
In 2012 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Sexual Assault Cold Case unit was able to connect Brooks to the crimes with DNA he provided to a national DNA database when he was released from federal prison in February 2005 for bank robbery, according to the DA.
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.
Investigators found Brooks’ DNA matched the DNA found at the scenes of the rapes, officials said, and Brooks was arrested in Surfside Beach, S.C. in June 2012.
Brooks was indicted on 13 charges: three counts of rape, two counts of committing 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.
Staff researcher Maria David contributed.
Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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