Man Sentenced to Life in 1991 Cold Case Rape Series

Published on February 16, 2022

Correction: an earlier version of the press release listed the attempted abduction with intent to defile charge as attempted rape. The press release has been updated to reflect the proper charge.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Michael F. Thomson, 65, of Montross, VA pled guilty and was sentenced on Friday, February 11, 2022, in the Arlington County Circuit Court to life in prison plus 56 years for his role in a 1991 cold case rape series. Judge DiMatteo imposed a sentence of life in prison on one count of rape, 50 years on a second count of rape, 10 years with eight suspended on one count of attempted abduction with intent to defile, and two years each on two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of the rapes. His rape sentence are to be served concurrently.

Between January and December 1991, Arlington County Police investigated multiple reports of rapes and attempted rapes involving female victims walking from the East Falls Church Metro Station. In each reported incident, the victims were approached by an unknown male who displayed a firearm. Three cases were linked by DNA evidence with a fourth case being investigated as part of the series due to similarities with the other cases.

In 2017, the Cold Case Unit initiated a fresh look at these unsolved cases including the review of cold case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results. The DNA was resubmitted for additional analysis including phenotyping and genetic genealogy. The analysis resulted in additional information that led detectives to identify Michael F. Thomson as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence, combined with thorough investigative efforts, linked him to the 1991 incidents. He was arrested at his residence on the morning of December 1, 2020 and has remained in custody in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

“Every member of our community should be able to safely walk home without fear of violent attacks like those committed by Michael Thomson,” said Chief Andy Penn. “While nothing can fully restore his survivors’ sense of security, I hope this sentence serves as a powerful message that we will not waiver in our pursuit to hold sexual predators accountable for their actions. This case is another great example of the dedicated efforts of our Cold Case Unit to continue to use all available resources until the offender is brought to justice, no matter how much time has passed.”

“Our office is grateful that ACPD committed expertise, dedication, and resources to this cold case and provided us with the tools to prosecute it,” said Commonwealth's Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “The survivors of Michael Thomson's crimes included a teenager and a young mother of two. Thirty years is a long time for them to wait for justice but I hope his sentencing brings them a measure of peace.”

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