Man Charged in 1994 Attleboro Rape, Latest Arrest in Push to Test Old Rape Kits

Bristol County prosecutors say unsolved murders and sexual assaults are top priorities for the district attorney's office

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A 48-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in a 1994 unsolved rape case out of Attleboro, Massachusetts, the Bristol County District Attorney's Office announced.

This is the latest cold case rape arrest Bristol County prosecutors have announced, as authorities in Massachusetts work to get through a backlog of sexual assault kits.

Eduardo Mendez, 48, is being charged with aggravated rape and is also being charged as a fugitive of justice in New York, where he was arrested. Massachusetts authorities issued the arrest warrant for aggravated rape back in September of 2020. Local, state and federal authorities have been searching for him ever since.

Prosecutors say that in June of 1994, a woman was walking near the Pleasant Street Bridge in Attleboro, when she was accosted by three men who forced her into the stairwell of a nearby building. Two of the men held her down, while a third "violently raped her," authorities said. Police took down descriptions of the men from the woman, but they were not able to identify any suspects. The woman had a sexual assault evidence collection kit done at a hospital following the assault.

That kit — along with thousands of others from around the state — was never fully tested by the state lab, Bristol County prosecutors said.

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office has been working with a private lab to test all of the kits in its county, with the help of a federal grant. The state is also working on its backlog with a private lab. This case was sent to a private lab through a federal grant received by the state, prosecutors and state officials said.

Resources for victims of sexual assault are available through the National Sexual Violence Resources Center and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673, and Massachusetts provides this list of statewide and resources for sexual assault survivors.

Investigators matched the DNA in the kit to Mendez, who was in the national DNA system from a stabbing conviction in New York later in the 1990s, a news release from Bristol County said.

“This was an extremely serious and violent assault committed against an innocent victim," Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn said in a news release. "This type of case shocks the conscience. I am pleased that the victim now knows her attacker has been identified and apprehended."

“We will continue to utilize modern technology to try to solve these case and bring justice to the victims. Unsolved cases, in particular homicides and sexual assaults, are a top priority for my office.” 

The state lab, which is managed by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, told NBC10 Boston it was directly involved with this case. A spokesperson for that agency said the state lab got this kit from Attleboro police in 2018 after that department conducted an inventory of its evidence, and sent it to its external testing partner in 2019 after screening it.

The spokesperson also said the state lab uploaded the results to a national DNA database, which eventually led to a hit, and helped investigators and the Bristol County DA's office identify the suspect.

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