A serial rapist suspect accused in three 1991 sexual assaults, including one for which an innocent man was wrongly convicted, is scheduled to appear in Suffolk Superior Court.
Jerry Dixon, 38, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated rape for attacks on March 20, 1991, in a wooded area off Townsend Street in Roxbury; on April 24, 1991, near the Academy Homes housing development in Roxbury; and on July 13, 1991, near Amory Street in Jamaica Plain.
Anthony Powell, an innocent man, was wrongly convicted at a 1992 trial for the Townsend Street attack. DNA testing was not available at the time of his trial, and he spent 12 years in prison before Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley’s office exonerated him based on subsequent advances in forensic science.
Conley’s office submitted the biological evidence from Townsend Street to the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which contains DNA samples from known offenders ordered to provide samples and unknown offenders whose DNA has been recovered from crime scenes. The sample did not match any known offenders, but it did match a sample recovered from the Amory Street attack.
Both of those attacks were approaching the end of the 15-year statute of limitations allowing prosecutors to bring charges. Conley’s office sought and obtained indictments in 2006 identifying the suspect only as “John Doe” and by his unique genetic profile. The Supreme Judicial Court would later uphold the propriety of those indictments, setting a precedent in Massachusetts law.
In 2007, Dixon was convicted of motor vehicle offenses in the Boston Municipal Court. Because of a 1991 armed robbery case that Conley himself — then an assistant district attorney — prosecuted to a conviction, Dixon was ordered to provide a DNA sample. That sample resulted in a “hit” linking him to the Townsend Street and Amory Street rapes, officials said.
In investigating Dixon’s past, Boston police and Suffolk prosecutors learned of the Academy Homes rape, in which the assailant gave the name “Gerry Dickerson” when Boston police interrupted the attack and arrested him. The victim did not take part in the prosecution at the time and the case did not move forward, but fingerprints taken from the suspect were later found to match Dixon’s.
WCVB reports that investigators also learned that Dixon lived for approximately seven years in Nashua, N.H., tolling the statute of limitations in all three rape cases. As a result, Conley’s office was able to obtain an indictment against Dixon for the Academy Homes rape, as well. As a failsafe, they re-indicted the Townsend Street and Amory Street rapes again, this time under Dixon’s true name.