Trial opens for Honduran accused of serial rapes

Published August 8, 2006

MIAMI - Fingerprints, DNA evidence and eyewitnesses will show that a Honduran man raped an 11-year-old girl three years ago, a prosecutor said Monday as the trial opened for a man accused of a series of sexual assaults in 2002 and 2003.

Reynaldo E. Rapalo was dubbed the "Shenandoah rapist," for the area where most attacks occurred. He was charged with seven rapes, but is being tried only for the June 2003 attack on a girl after she got home from school.

While awaiting trial, Rapalo escaped from Miami-Dade County's Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in December. He pried open a ceiling vent, cut through bars and used tied-together bedsheets to rappel down the side of the building. After an intense search, he was recaptured Dec. 26.

Adams told jurors in her opening statement that the girl identified Rapalo as her attacker, that his DNA matched that found on the victim and that his fingerprints were found in her home.

Police were led to Rapalo after he bit a man on the arm during an alleged attack on the man's sister-in-law. The DNA from that bite provided a match.

Rapalo's court-appointed lawyer, Khurrum Wahid, suggested Rapalo was swept up by police under great pressure to solve the series of rapes.