ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — A man has been charged in a nearly three-decade-old rape case out of Attleboro after the evidence was recently tested.
Eduardo Mendez, 48, was arrested Tuesday night in New York City on a warrant issued two years ago for the 1994 rape of a woman, according to the office of Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.
Mendez has been charged in New York as a fugitive from justice. The DA’s office said it’s unclear at this time if he will fight extradition to Massachusetts.
Prosecutors allege that on June 9, 1994, Mendez and two other men attacked a woman as she walked near the Pleasant Street Bridge. Investigators say the men covered her mouth and forced her into a nearby stairwell. Two of the men then held her down while a third raped her, according to the DA’s office.
The victim immediately reported the incident to police, but they were unable to identify a suspect. She was taken to the hospital where she was treated and a rape kit was collected, but it was never tested for DNA.
That kit was among the hundreds of previously untested kits the DA’s office is now working to process through an initiative funded by a $3.3 million federal grant.
The DNA profile was a match for Mendez, who was already in the national system through a conviction for stabbing in New York in the late 1990s, the DA’s office said. In addition to the DNA match, his physical description matched the one given by the victim.
Authorities have been searching for Mendez since 2020.
He is the fourth suspect charged in an unsolved rape as part of Quinn’s initiative. The DA’s office said had the victim’s kit been fully tested when it was submitted, this case would’ve been solved decades ago.
According to the DA’s office, the victim in this case said she was ecstatic and relieved to hear about the arrest, adding that even after more than 25 years, she is “still living with it.”
“I am extremely pleased that our rape kit testing initiative has already resulted in four separate cold case rapes being solved from more than a decade ago,” Quinn said. “All of these cases demonstrate the importance of fully testing all sexual assault kits. If we did not obtain the grant to have all these kits fully tested, this case may never have been solved.”
The DA’s office said it hopes to have all untested rape kits fully processed by the end of the year.