A DNA hit from a Nassau County larceny case led to the arrest of a Queens man at the center of investigation of sexual assaults and attempted rapes in popular Forest Park, officials said Thursday.
Mark Andrade, 46, had been arrested back in August 2015 on charges he stole copper from utility poles in Rockville Centre, according to a spokeswoman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office.
Andrade, of 91st Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, pleaded guilty in December to two charges of felony grand larceny and was given 5 years’ probation, the spokeswoman said. Upon his conviction for the felonies, Andrade’s DNA was entered into the state databank, as required under New York law.
As a result of the DNA hit, police arrested Andrade on Wednesday outside his home in Queens, said Robert Boyce, NYPD chief of detectives. For the moment, Andrade, who had no record of sex crimes, was being charged only with an attempted rape on March 29, 2013 of a 24-year-old woman jogging on the 4-mile-long bridle path in Forest Park, Boyce said. The victim in that case fought her attacker, pulling a beer bottle out of his back pocket in the struggle, and throwing it into the brush, he said.
Boyce said police swabbed the beer bottle and came up with the DNA sample that tied into the March attack, as well as another in the crime pattern that the NYPD wouldn’t specify.
A total of six attempted rapes are being investigated in the case, stretching from March 2011 to August 2013, police said. Investigators have DNA in two of the attacks — the March 2013 one and another that investigators wouldn’t disclose.
Victims in the Forest Park cases ranged in age from 13 to 69, and all were attacked on the bridle path, police said. The park is a 165-acre zone of mostly oak trees, city officials said.
A spokeswoman said Andrade was awaiting arraignment late Thursday in Queens criminal court.