EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — After more than three decades, an Indiana man has been charged with sexually assaulting two teenage girls in Exeter, according to Rhode Island State Police.
Frank Thies, 66, was taken into custody last month and charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of first-degree child molestation.
Detectives believe Thies, who served in the U.S. Marines and Navy, forced two girls into the woods at knifepoint near one of their homes and sexually assaulted them.
Detectives scoured the woods for clues and collected DNA evidence, but were unable to locate nor identify the suspect at the time.
It wasn’t until the case was re-opened in 2019 by the Rhode Island State Police’s Special Victims Unit that investigators began closing in on Thies.
Back in August, detectives learned the suspect was likely one of three brothers, all of whom were originally from New York and served in the military.
Detectives later found out that the oldest brother, identified as Thies, had reported to the Naval Justice Academy in Newport the day before the assaults.
With the help of Indiana State Police, a discarded sample of Thies’ DNA was collected and tested to determine whether it matched the DNA collected roughly 35 years prior.
Police said Thies was apprehended and charged as a fugitive from justice soon after the results revealed his DNA matched the suspect’s. He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Washington Superior Court.
Thies is believed to have previously lived in New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Texas, Italy and the United Kingdom before moving to Indiana.
Anyone who has additional information about Thies is urged to contact the Rhode Island State Police Special Victims Unit at (401) 764-5394.