A lawyer in New Jersey has been arrested in connection with four rapes in Charlestown dating back to 2007 and 2008 thanks to advancements in forensic genealogy and DNA, Boston police and the FBI announced Tuesday.
Matthew J. Nilo, 35, formerly of the North End, was arrested at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Weehawken, N.J., said Joseph Bonavolonta, FBI’s special agent in charge of the Boston field office.
“This is without a doubt a major break in this investigation that has haunted the survivors of these sexual assaults, the residents of Charlestown, and the Boston Police Department for years,” Bonovolonta said at a news conference at Boston police headquarters. “We believe we have removed a dangerous threat from our community.”
Nilo will be brought back to Boston to face justice in the coming days, Bonavolonta said.
Nilo is accused of sexually assaulting four women in the Terminal Street area on Aug. 18, 2007, Nov. 22, 2007, Aug. 5, 2008, and Dec. 23, 2008, Police Commissioner Michael Cox said.
“All four cases are DNA connected,” Cox said.
Nilo has been charged with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape, and one count of indecent assault and battery, Cox said.
Authorities did not disclose details about the assaults or the victims.
Investigators immediately shared news of Nilo’s arrest with the four sexual assault survivors who had been waiting 15 years to learn the identity of their attacker, Bonovolonta said.
“We certainly realize that identifying this individual does not ease their pain, nothing can, but hopefully it answers some questions,” Bonovolonta said.
Nilo is a cyber attorney, who earned his law degree at the University of San Francisco, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Aside from Boston, New Jersey, and California, Nilo has also lived in Wisconsin and New York, authorities said, urging anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by Nilo to contact Boston police or the FBI.
The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, or SAKI grant, a federal program meant to help process sexual assault collection kits to reduce a persistent backlog, helped in the investigation, Cox said.
Investigators from the Sexual Assault Unit at the Boston Police Department reached out to the FBI for assistance in October.
Using investigative genetic genealogy, a unique method that combines DNA analysis with genealogy research and historical records to generate new leads in unsolved homicides, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes, investigators identified Nilo as a suspect, Bonovolonta said.
Investigators received positive confirmation of Nilo’s identity last month, Bonovolonta said.
“Sexual assault cases are very difficult and extraordinarily challenging for our victims,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said. “They’re also hard to solve.”
Nilo’s arrest is an example of tenacity and endurance, Hayden said.
“This arrest also highlights the fact that investigators never stop analyzing evidence, collecting information, and running down leads in order to bring dangerous offenders to justice,” Hayden said.