A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a series of rapes in the area of West Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ali Ghaffar has been arrested in connection with multiple rapes from June 2021 through March, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said.
The incident that became critical to catching a suspect took place on March 24 and followed a pattern similar to the other assaults, according to WCVB-TV.
The woman told police she was picked up in Springfield, then driven to a remote area of West Springfield near Bearhole Reservoir where she was raped after being threatened with a gun.
The March 24 incident became critical to breaking the case because after the victim was found walking near the Massachusetts Turnpike, Massachusetts State Police joined forces with West Springfield police and the DA’s office to bring all of their resources to bear, Jim Leydon, spokesman for the Hampden District Attorney’s office, indicated, according to WGGB-TV.
Police said that prior to the March 24 incident, rapes had been reported on June 11, 2021, July 29, 2021, Jan. 16, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and March 4.
JUST IN: Hampden County (MA) District Attorney’s office releases mug of Ali Ghaffar and say he has raped at least six women and they are asking anyone who may have been victimized by him to come forward. He is currently in custody – and charged with multiple sex assault charges. pic.twitter.com/l9GO7eNYrk
— newsbell (@newsbell) April 13, 2022
Four of the alleged crimes took place on Amostown Road in West Springfield, and six, including the March 24 incident, took place near the reservoir.
West Springfield Police received a report of a March 30 sexual assault near the reservoir. The victims of the March 30 incident and the Feb. 19 incident were able to identify a suspect.
As a result, Ghaffar was put under surveillance the next day.
Police were following the suspect on March 31 when a woman entered his vehicle.
“The suspect’s car traveled to the Bearhole Reservoir in West Springfield, where it came to a stop. At this time officers approached the car and took Ghaffar into custody. In so doing, the team had stopped another rape before it could happen,” officials said in a news release, WCVB-TV reported.
Ghaffir was initially charged with “rape, aggravated rape, kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to rape and armed kidnapping with sexual assault.”
DNA evidence later linked Ghaffar to the March 24 incident. Victims from other cases were also interviewed, resulting in additional charges being filed against Ghaffar in connection with the prior incidents, according to WGGB-TV.
“The suspect in this case was preying upon vulnerable women. While his conduct was becoming more frequent and bold, state police investigators in my office and our local partners marshaled resources over mere hours and conducted an outstanding investigation knowing that women remained at risk. This rapid and formidable deployment occurred to protect the public from further harm,” Gulluni said.
Gulluni said police are asking other possible victims to come forward.
“Investigators moved with urgency to identify and stop this alleged serial rapist before he victimized more women. We are asking our partners in the media and the public at large to share the picture we are releasing of the suspect, and ask that if you are a survivor of Ali Ghaffar, please come forward and speak with law enforcement. We want to seek justice for anyone who was victimized and to help those people with services and support,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.