Lawyer arrested in over decade-old rapes after being identified by genetic genealogy

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(BOSTON) — Police have arrested 35-year-old Matthew J. Nilo, a former Boston attorney, in connection with several decades-old rapes that took place in Boston. Officials said they were able to identify the suspect using forensic genetic genealogy.

Nilo has been charged with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape and one count of indecent assault and battery, according to Boston police.

The sexual assaults were allegedly committed on Aug. 18, 2007; Nov. 22, 2007; Aug. 5, 2008; and Dec. 23, 2008, in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, according to police.

“This arrest cumulates the investigation that employed the use of genetic genealogy from recovered evidence. All four cases are DNA connected,” Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said at a press conference.

Nilo was arrested in New Jersey following an investigation between the Boston Police Department, the New Jersey Police Department and Boston’s FBI office.

“These investigations utilized sexual assault evidence collection kits with the assistance of detectives in identifying the suspect as the investigations continued,” Cox said.

Additional resources for the investigation came from the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant, which helps the city investigate unsolved sexual assault crimes, according to Cox.

Efforts were launched in May 2022 to review unsolved sexual assault cases that posed the most threat to public safety, Cox said.

Authorities announced in 2008 that the cases were connected through DNA evidence, but had no suspect at the time. Through genetic genealogy, detectives can search for relatives of an unknown suspect through DNA voluntarily submitted to public databases and then narrow the family members down to a likely perpetrator.

“While we know today’s arrest of Mr. Nilo cannot erase the harm he allegedly inflicted upon his survivors, we believe we have removed a dangerous threat from our community,” FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said at the press conference.

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