MESA, Ariz. — Police in Arizona have identified a recently retired Border Patrol agent as a suspect in a string of rapes committed more than 20 years ago.
Mesa police officials suspect John Joseph Daly III, 57, of being the East Valley Rapist, a man who targeted at least eight women between July 1999 and October 2001.
Daly was an agent with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for 20 years. He joined the ranks in November 1999, four months after the series of rapes began.
Daly, who worked out of the Douglas Station in southeast Arizona, retired in December 2019, according to the Arizona Republic.
Mesa police authorities said Tuesday that they were pleased to make the announcement of Daly’s arrest and bring closure to his alleged victims.
Mesa police Cmdr. Chris Rash, who was the original detective on cases there, spoke of that excitement at a news conference Wednesday, the Republic reported.
“If you’ve sat with a victim at one, two o’clock in the morning when they’ve been through a traumatic experience and they’re recounting that to you, that leaves a lasting impression,” Rash said. “That’s probably the most satisfying part, is seeing that they’re going to have some closure now and hopefully some full final healing that can come through this process.”
According to police officials, the eight cases throughout Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Bisbee were believed to be related due to the similar behavior of the suspect in each assault. The victims, all white women between 21 and 41 years old, told police that the rapist entered through open or unlocked windows and doors.
“He would enter residential houses and, in a lot of the cases, the victims would wake up to him already being in the house, so things like that were specific to him and his crimes,” Mesa police Detective Brandi George said Wednesday, according to the Republic.
The assailant blindfolded his victims before sexually assaulting them.
Three of the unsolved cases were linked over the years by DNA, authorities said Tuesday. At the time, however, investigators were unable to find viable leads and the DNA did not match any of the profiles in the national database, George said.
The break in the long-unsolved cases came in February after Arizona detectives received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, a grant program that aims to help law enforcement erase the backlog of untested sexual assault kits.
“Officers from the Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Bisbee police departments investigated these cases jointly, making connections, conducting interviews and collecting evidence,” Mesa authorities said. “The FBI assisted in recent months by providing analytical, investigative and support resources.”
Through undisclosed investigative efforts, Daly’s name came up in the investigation. A background check showed that he lived in Mesa and Bisbee, near the victims, at the time of each sexual assault.
Last month, DNA testing linked Daly to two of the eight cases, one in Mesa and the other in Gilbert, police officials said.
According to ABC 15 in Phoenix, one of Daly’s longtime friends from his career in law enforcement helped authorities set up a ruse Tuesday to take him into custody. Daly, who was armed at the time, resisted arrest.
Investigators who searched Daly’s home after his arrest found a cache of weapons, as well as a Bisbee Observer newspaper clipping about one of the assaults.
He was booked Tuesday on charges related to three of the cases: four counts of sexual assault and three counts each of kidnapping, burglary and sexual abuse.
Border Patrol officials cooperated in the case, according to investigators.
“CBP does not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our current or former personnel,” the agency said in a statement obtained by the Republic.
Authorities on Wednesday addressed why the case has remained unsolved for so many years.
“There’s been a lot of questions as far as why did it take so long and how did we do this,” George said. “Well, the question has a simple answer: DNA. DNA technology definitely facilitated his apprehension.”
Detectives in Bisbee are expected to submit charges related to the crimes there, and authorities continue to investigate the remaining four cases.
Daly remained in the Cochise County Jail Friday morning.
Cox Media Group