The Tompkins County Sheriff's Office has gathered enough evidence to connect two sex crimes that occurred in October near the Finger Lakes Trail on Danby Road and on the Thayer Preserve Trail.
The police had not previously confirmed a connection between the two assaults, although the suspect in both incidents had been described as a white man, 20-30 years old, between 5'6" and 5'8" with a stocky build. At the time of the incident, the suspect was wearing dark clothing and a ski mask.
The first incident, which occurred on Oct. 14 in the 2600 block of Danby Road, was initially deemed forcible touching but then changed to a rape case. Two weeks later, on Oct. 28, a forcible touching incident was reported on the Thayer Preserve Trail on Sandy Bank Road.
Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne said the police have been able to recover DNA evidence from one of the two crime scenes and have sent it away for testing.
"I am comfortable saying we have some potential DNA evidence on that," Osborne said, though it could take six months to a year to be tested and then compared to any DNA that is already in the state's database. If there's a match, Osborne said it could help solve both cases. "The two we had, we believe they're possibly related, for sure."
A third sexual assault was announced by the Ithaca Police Department on Oct. 29, but to date there is still no indication it was related to the two previous ones being investigated by Tompkins County police.