Suspect arrested in 1995 rape series

SAN DIEGO -- An Arizona man was extradited Monday to San Diego to stand trial on suspicion of carrying out a series of rapes in the city 24 years ago.

Christopher VanBuskirk, then in his early 20s, allegedly threatened his victims with a knife while sexually assaulting them on four occasions between August and November of 1995, according to San Diego police.

"In each case, the victim agreed to participate in a sex-assault examination to collect physical evidence from the assault," Lt. Carole Beason said. "The DNA evidence recovered revealed (that) the same (man) committed all four crimes, but he was unidentified."

In March 2002 and November 2004, two more women were raped under similar circumstances in Riverside County.

"These women were also sexually assaulted at knifepoint, and DNA evidence was recovered linking these cases to the same (assailant) as the 1995 cases in San Diego," Beason said. "Unfortunately, the suspect was still unidentified."

In February of this year, the SDPD Sex Crimes Unit sought help with the case from the FBI Forensic Genetic Genealogy Team, and investigators from the two agencies were able to identify the alleged perpetrator two months later via public-access genealogical databases.

Last Monday, SDPD detectives traveled to Arizona and coordinated with the Phoenix Police Department, Riverside County Sheriff's Office and FBI to arrest the suspect.

VanBuskirk, 46, was booked into the San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of three counts of rape and one count each of forcible sex with a foreign object and forcible oral copulation with a minor 14 or older. He was being held on $5 million bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday.

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