DNA links suspect in two rape cases

Man ordered held on $1m cash bail

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / December 29, 2010

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Prosecutors say they used DNA evidence to link a man suspected of raping a child and brutally stabbing his father during an August home invasion in Cambridge to the 2008 rapes of two female college students who were tied up and threatened at knifepoint in their Brighton apartment.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said his office secured a grand jury order to obtain a DNA sample from Marcus Colono after other evidence led police to charge him in the Cambridge case this fall.

Detectives then matched Colono’s DNA sample to biological evidence taken from the body of one of the victims in the Boston rapes, in what Conley called an elaborate examination of the evidence in both cases.

Yesterday, Colono, 33, was ordered held on $1 million cash bail in Suffolk Superior Court, charged with four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, as well as home invasion, and armed burglary. He pleaded not guilty, and the case was continued to Jan. 26.

“This is a reminder of the grand jury’s power,’’ Conley said in a prepared statement. “It’s not just a mechanism for obtaining an indictment. It’s an investigative tool unlike any other, and it gets results.’’

Colono is the older brother of Michael Colono, 18, who was stabbed to death in 2003 by Alexander Pring-Wilson, then a Harvard graduate student. At the time, the elder brother had harsh words for Pring-Wilson, calling him “nothing but a Harvard thug.’’

Since his arrest in October in the Cambridge crime, Colono has been held on $1 million cash bail on Middlesex County charges of home invasion, armed assault to murder, and aggravated rape of a child. He pleaded not guilty.

During both arraignments, Colono hid behind a wall to conceal his identity. His court-appointed lawyer, Kelli Porges, , would not comment on her client yesterday.

Colono was first linked to the Cambridge home invasion after police allegedly matched a bloody handprint found at the scene to prints Colono had provided in 1998, during an arrest on drug charges.

In the Cambridge incident, an intruder broke into a home in the middle of the night with a butcher knife and raped the boy. When the child refused to comply with the attacker’s demands, the intruder stabbed the father more than 10 times in an attempt to sever his head, authorities said.

The investigation into that incident attracted the attention of Boston detectives: DNA evidence from both scenes matched to the same unknown person. After Colono’s handprint identified him as a suspect in Cambridge, Suffolk prosecutors sought the grand jury order for a DNA sample so they could build their own case in the Brighton rapes.

In that incident, two college students were in their Commonwealth Avenue apartment on a September 2008 evening when the buzzer rang. Assuming it was their third roommate — because the intercom was not working — they buzzed the person in.

Moments later, they heard a knock at their apartment door. One of the roommates opened it, but did not see anyone.

Then “the door burst open, and the defendant burst into the apartment brandishing a knife,’’ Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Holly Broadbent said in court yesterday.

She said the intruder, whom she identified as Colono, tied the women up and searched their apartment. He then marched them into a common room and repeatedly raped them both, threatening them with the knife.

“He told them not to contact the police because he knew who they were and where they lived,’’ Broadbent said.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at