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Airman Awaits Hearing in Rape Case

April 24, 2002 GMT

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ An Air Force Airman was jailed on $1 million bail after turning himself in to police investigating six sexual assault cases in this college town that have been linked to a slaying and rapes in Philadelphia.

Senior Airman Troy Graves, 29, was held for investigation of sexual assault and burglary pending a court hearing Friday. He has not been formally charged since his Tuesday arrest and public defender Kathryn Hay declined to comment.

Graves’ mother, Michal B. Graves, called her son’s arrest ``unbelievable.″

``Troy is happily married. He’s on active duty with the Air Force. ... Troy is a nice-looking, very quiet young man,″ she told The Philadelphia Inquirer for Wednesday’s editions.

Police refused to say how they connected Graves to the crimes and a judge has issued a gag order in the case.

In the attacks, an intruder entered apartments through unlocked doors or windows in the early morning, blindfolded his victims and forced them to perform a sex act. All six assaults involved women in their 20s living in apartments near the Colorado State University campus.

Last year, Fort Collins police said DNA evidence connected the same man to all six attacks.

In Philadelphia, the Center City Rapist struck in the well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood from 1997 to 1999. In each of those cases, the intruder climbed through a window or balcony doors.

Police connected six Philadelphia crimes _ including the strangling of University of Pennsylvania student Shannon Schieber _ through DNA but were never able to identify a suspect.

Worried that the five-year statute of limitations on rape was about to run out, Philadelphia’s district attorney filed charges in December against a suspect who was identified only by his DNA.

Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said that she was waiting for a DNA analysis from Colorado authorities.

``They believe there is a connection between our cases and their cases, but we’re not saying yet that this is our person,″ Abraham said Tuesday. ``We need confirmation from authorities there that the DNA matches. It appears very persuasive.″

Graves is a former Philadelphia resident who lists Fort Collins as his current address, but has been stationed since 2000 about 40 miles away at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he did maintenance work on intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Air Force said.

A month after he arrived at the Wyoming base he was reprimanded after being accused of illegally entering the dormitory of a female airman, Air Force Capt. Stacy Vaughn said.

Graves’ parents divorced when he was 13 and his father was a drug addict who died last year in New York, his mother said.

Graves dropped out of high school in 1989 and worked odds jobs, including at a Philadelphia restaurant and a bank, until he joined the Air Force in 1999. He married Amy Wade in March 2001 in Larimer County, Colo, she said.

``He’s not unsociable, but he is not a party guy or a womanizer. When he has had relationships with women, they have been for a long time, because he doesn’t believe in breaking up. He adores this young woman, Amy,″ she said.


On the Net:

Philadelphia police sketch of suspect: