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Third cold-case rape matched to rapist convicted in Anne Arundel County

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DNA testing has matched a third cold-case rape to a man who hanged himself in the Anne Arundel County jail after he was convicted of one rape and was awaiting trial on a second.

The latest case to be closed involving William Joseph Trice was the May 31, 1987, sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman in her Silver Spring apartment, authorities in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties said Monday. It took place more than a year before the two in 1988 in Anne Arundel County, and investigators wonder whether there are more victims.

"He took with him all those answers. How many more women are there? How many women won't get their day in court?" said one victim, Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf. A week before he hanged himself in January 2010, Trice was convicted of raping her.

Wheatley-Wolf wrote a self-published book with David H. Cordle, the chief investigator at the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office, about her ordeal, starting with the rape in August 1988.

Trice, 48, killed himself as he was facing the prospect of a lengthy prison term for assaulting Wheatley-Wolf and was about to be tried for the rape in December 1998 of an Arnold woman. When arrested, he told Cordle he had been working as a messenger at the time.

Wheatley-Wolf said she would tell the woman whose rape case was just closed that "it's over, and there are people out there that still have her back." The woman now lives in Anne Arundel County. Through Montgomery County police, she declined interview requests.

Cordle, who pursued Wheatley-Wolf's cold-case rape, said Trice used a knife in the Montgomery County attack. He said Trice did not use a weapon when he assaulted Wheatley-Wolf more than a year later, which indicates he may have gained confidence. Cordle and Montgomery County police are asking police elsewhere, including in the District of Columbia, to review unsolved rape cases from that time period. They also asked women who think Trice might have been their assailant to contact authorities.

Montgomery County police said Monday that they had DNA from the 1987 rape reanalyzed this year using current techniques, submitted it to the national DNA database known as CODIS, and were notified July 2 of the match.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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