A former Connecticut charter school company executive has been charged in connection with four armed sexual assaults 36 years ago, prosecutors said.
Michael Marion Sharpe, 69, of Marlborough, was arrested Monday on four counts of first-degree kidnapping with a firearm in the 1984 attacks — after investigators matched his DNA to the crime scenes, the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
“With this arrest, the victims of these crimes who have waited more than three decades to see their attacker brought to justice now know he will be held accountable for his crimes,” Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo said in a statement.
In each attack in four different towns, Sharpe allegedly broke into the victim’s home and sexually assaulted the woman while holding her at gunpoint.
Following decades of dead ends, investigators eventually identified Sharpe as a suspect using publicly available genealogy data, prosecutors said.
Authorities retrieved Sharpe’s DNA after going through trash he left outside his home earlier this month — and the genetic material matched that of samples from the suspect in the four sex attacks, prosecutors said.
“Turning to forensic genetic genealogy as a possible breakthrough for unsolved cases shows that the Cold Case Unit’s investigators never forget the victims of these crimes,” Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John Fahey said in a statement.
Investigators used the GEDmatch website to identify Sharpe as their suspect, Fahey told the Associated Press.
Sharpe was not charged with sexual assault because the statute of limitations for that crime was five years in 1984, Fahey said.
Sharpe, who appeared in court Tuesday, was released on a promise to return to court on Dec. 1, the Hartford Courant reported. A judge cited his health issues, including leukemia and heart problems, as the reason he’s allowed to remain free ahead of trial.
Prosecutors had sought $1 million bail, but Sharpe’s attorney said the accusations are not aligned with his previous career in education.
In 2014, Sharpe resigned as executive director of the Family Urban Schools of Excellence, which ran a group of public Hartford charter schools, amid allegations that he concealed a decades-old forgery conviction and misrepresented his academic credentials, the Courant reported.
Sharpe’s attorney, meanwhile, said he had yet to review test results that investigators say link him to the crimes.
“He like any other defendant continues to enjoy a presumption of innocence,” attorney Michael Chambers told NBC Connecticut in a statement.
“The arrest warrant describes very serious accusations … I’m sure the state will provide the documents as soon as they become available. We look forward to reviewing them at that time.”
With Post wires