2014-04-11 / Top Stories

Cold Case Criminal Caught

It has taken 17 years, but Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has announced that a 47-year-old former Far Rockaway resident has been indicted on charges of raping a woman in her home after a DNA hit linked him to the crime. The man was connected to the crime by forensic evidence uncovered by the District Attorney’s DNA Prosecution Unit.

Brown explained, “My office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been systematically reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in Queens County dating back to 1996 – which is as far as the statute of limitations permits.”

The District Attorney’s office identified the defendant as Richard Thomas, 47, whose last known address was on New Haven Avenue in Far Rockaway. Thomas was arraigned on Friday, March 28 on an indictment charging him with first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy. Thomas, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, was ordered held without bail and will return to court on June 12.

According to Brown the victim was sleeping with her husband inside their Far Rockaway home on the night of July 28, 1996, when she was awakened by a noise.

Thomas allegedly entered the home and held both at gunpoint while he committed the crime. He then fled the scene.

The Queens DA’s cold case initiative, which started nearly two years ago, using federal grant money, focuses on identifying evidence that has not been previously tested. To date, the initiative has resulted in 13 John Doe indictments covering 17 separate criminal incidents. In addition, three defendants have now been charged by the DA for crimes solved through this initiative.

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