Saturday, March 6, 2021

Port Matilda man arrested in serial rapes

STATE COLLEGE — Police have arrested a Port Matilda man they say is responsible for the serial rapes of four Penn State students. The incidents occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2017, police said.

Jeffrey P. Fields, 36, was taken into custody on July 21 on 16 felony charges, including multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. He was arraigned by District Judge Don Hahn, who denied bail.

The investigation began on Aug. 22, 2010, when a 20-year old woman reported that she was assaulted in the early morning hours in the area of Apple Alley, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by State College detectives Stephen Bosak and Nicole Eckley.

On Jan. 28, 2011, a 19-year old woman reported that after leaving a party in the Fraternity Row area, she entered a vehicle where she was struck in the face and raped by an unknown male.

The third victim, a 20-year old woman, reported on April 3, 2011, that she was walking to her home on South Burrowes Street in the area of Fairmount Avenue when she was approached by a man who asked if she needed help getting home. After she said no, the man allegedly dragged her behind a building to an area overgrown with bushes and trees, where he raped and repeatedly hit her when she pleaded with him to stop.

On July 16, 2017, a 19-yearold woman reported she was walking home in the area of West Prospect Avenue and South Atherton Street when a man grabbed her from behind and raped her. She managed to escape during the assault.

DNA samples were sent to the Pennsylvania State Police lab for analysis following each assault and found to be a match in all four cases. The DNA profile also was uploaded to the FBI’s CODIS database.

In 2018, DNA samples were sent to private labs for genetic genealogy screening, with the profile being loaded into genealogical databases.

Through forensic genetic genealogical work, police developed the suspect’s family tree, which “was identified as having a high likelihood of including” Fields, according to the affidavit.

Several family members provided DNA and the results ruled out branches of the family tree as containing the possible suspect.

Fields’ parents provided DNA samples in June. On July 17, an analyst told detectives that both samples showed they were the mother and father of the suspect with 99.9999 percent certainty. Jeffrey Fields is their only biological son together, according to the affidavit.

A search warrant was issued on July 21 to collect a DNA sample from Fields.

Police said Fields was continuously employed in the State College area from the third quarter of 2010 through the present.

Fields is charged with four felony counts of rape by forcible compulsion, four felony counts of rape by threat of forcible compulsion, four felony counts of sexual assault, four felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and three misdemeanor counts of simple assault

He is being held at the Centre County Correctional Facility.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 29.

A defense attorney for Fields is not listed in court documents.