How Many Suspects?

In September of 2004, Pittsfield Massachusetts fell victim to a sudden and alarming increase in salacious criminal activity.  Females were confronted on the streets during evening hours and subjected to sexual solicitation, along with other crude forms of harassment.  Corroborating  witness reports indicated that one culprit was responsible:  A man exposing himself, displaying open and gross lewdness, but taking no threatening action.

That changed in October of 2004 when two women were violently attacked in the same neighborhood.  Forced to fight off their assailant, both victims fled to safety.  The following excerpt is from an October 23rd Berkshire Eagle newspaper article: “Women are being approached on the streets of Pittsfield by an assailant who police say has been getting bolder in his sexual preying since the pattern of encounters started.  Pittsfield Police say there have been nine reports since Sept. 24 of a man approaching women on city streets at night in “high profile” and “well lit” areas.  The man has become more brazen during his last attempts and has attacked the women.”  

Police officials had made it clear, they were hunting one man.  An individual who’d rapidly digressed from exhibitionist to predator.  On October 26th, despite a focused police presence, a third woman was attacked.  As public anxiety grew, it became apparent that the Pittsfield Police Department was impotent.  They had assigned extra patrols, blanketed the area with cops, yet failed miserably.  Gripped by fear, Pittsfield went on lockdown.  Streets were vacated after dark, women traveled in pairs, doors remained locked.

By month’s end, after amassing and analyzing considerable information, police officials conducted a press conference.  The following excerpt is from an October 28th Berkshire Eagle newspaper article: “Investigators are now convinced that a man who violently attacked three women in the city’s southwestern section is not the same person believed to have been behind a string of lewd behavior complaints, police said yesterday. Further witness interviews that gave a more detailed description of the attacker and a review of what appears to be two distinct behavior patterns led investigators to believe that they are looking for two suspects, Pittsfield Police Chief Anthony J. Riello said.”  

Unfortunately, the press conference failed to generate the response officials were looking for.  Citizens grew apprehensive and began to raise questions:  Why had police done an about-face, now suggesting two culprits?  Why were three women attacked before this was ascertained? Are police doing everything possible to keep us safe?  How efficient is our police force if not one, but two serial perpetrators can’t be apprehended?  Will more women be attacked before this is resolved?

At the time of this debacle I resided in Richmond Massachusetts, a small town west of Pittsfield.  I had no criminal history, worked diligently in the private sector, and gave back to the community.  To put it mildly, there was nothing to even remotely suggest me traipsing around Pittsfield menacing women.  Yet somehow I wound up in police custody, charged in a series of public lewdness complaints.  I would eventually be found not guilty on all counts, however, not before irreparable damage ensued.  An overzealous crime scene investigator named Mark Trapani, a man desperate to preserve his reputation, would knowingly fabricate “evidence” and “facts” to make it appear as if a violent sexual predator had been caught.

For this to happen police needed to nonchalantly gloss over one important fact: They were now contradicting their contradiction.  On October 23rd they announced that one individual had perpetrated both the lewd behavior incidents and the violent attacks.  Then on October 28th, they declared that two men were being sought.  But now, four months later, police claimed that one culprit was entirely responsible. What happened to: “Investigators are now CONVINCED that a man who violently attacked three women in the city’s southwestern section IS NOT the same person believed to have been behind a string of lewd behavior complaints…”

The violence in October of 2004 had erupted quickly, three assaults in just six days.  Their close proximity to each other confirmed the work of one assailant, an individual living in the vicinity who knew the area well. Then, as suddenly as the violence began, it stopped.  Why?  No one can be sure.  Maybe the culprit moved away, or perhaps he’d been apprehended in October for an unrelated crime.

Four months later Pittsfield law enforcement was still baffled, unable to apprehend their assailant.  No one took the failure more personally than Investigator Mark Trapani.  But soon after, I was wrongfully arrested for the lewd behavior incidents and his prayers were answered.  Refusing to admit defeat, Trapani became enamored at the prospect of pinning the three attacks on me.  He rationalized that anyone who possessed the mindset to perform lewd acts in public must surely possess the mindset to violently attack women.  This would provide him with a soul, any soul…didn’t matter, whom he could sacrifice to feather his nest.

Pinning both the lewd behavior and violent assaults on me would conveniently wrap up everything with one giant bow.  But there was a problem, I’d been out of Berkshire County on a work assignment for at least one of the assaults.  Trapani circumvented this discrepancy by charging me in one assault only, hoping local media would focus on the apprehension of an assailant and not his disregard for two unsolved attacks.

It required six days for Trapani to pull off my bogus arrest because the fabrication and manipulation of forensic evidence takes time.  Finally, on March 1, 2005 he accomplished this feat by orchestrating the biggest and most shameful fingerprint ruse ever perpetrated by the Pittsfield Police Department…

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