A New Jersey lawyer formerly from Boston was arraigned today on rape and related charges for a series of attacks in Charlestown in 2007.
Matthew Nilo, 35, was charged with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape and one count of indecent assault and battery, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office. Nilo was arrested in Weehawken, NJ last week on the charges, based in part on an examination of DNA evidence in the case.
Separately, Gary Zerola, 51 and a one time assistant Suffolk County district attorney, is scheduled for trial tomorrow on two rape charges.
Nilo had bail set at $500,0000 at his arraignment today on three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape and one count of indecent assault and battery for attacks on Terminal Street in Charlestown. He will return to court on Monday for a bail-review hearing, the DA's office reports.
Assistant DA Lynn Feigenbaum gave the following summary at arraignment:
In the early morning hours of August 18, 2007, the victim, a 23-year-old woman, was out with a friend in downtown Boston. After leaving a bar and heading to her friend’s house, the victim came back downtown to look for her car in the area of State Street. There she was approached by a male in his twenties with light olive skin and brown hair whom she thought she knew. She accepted a ride from him to help look for her car, but instead he took her to Terminal Street in Charlestown, where they both got out of the car. Once outside of the car, the male told her to shut up or he would kill her, and that he had a weapon. The male proceeded to rape her on a grassy area near railroad tracks.
After the assault, the victim sought help from a passerby, called 911, and was transported to a hospital. She underwent a sexual assault evidence collection exam. Boston Police Department Crime Lab personnel later obtained a male DNA profile from a vaginal swab, which was entered into the national CODIS database with negative results.
On November 22, 2007, another 23-year-old woman left a bar on State Street after attending her high school reunion. She entered a vehicle that she believed it to be a taxi or other livery car, and gave the male driver an address of an ATM near her apartment. She described the driver as in his mid-twenties and having short hair. When he passed the corner of North Washington Street and Commercial Street, the victim told him he missed the address, and he flashed a small knife at her. He then drove to Terminal Street, where he ordered the victim out of the car, knocked her to the ground and raped her.
When the victim was able to get away, she flagged down a passing police cruiser for help. She was transported to a hospital, where she underwent a sexual assault evidence collection exam. BPD Crime Lab personnel once again obtained a male DNA profile, this time from an external genital swab. When entered into CODIS, this profile matched that of the August 18, 2007, attacker.
On August 5, 2008, the victim in this case, a 36-year-old woman, was panhandling in the area of Boylston and Arlington Streets, off the Boston Common. She was approached by a man in his early twenties, who promised to give her money if she went to Charlestown in his car with 3 him. She accepted, and the man drove her to Terminal Street. Shortly after they got out of the car, he tackled the victim to the ground, held a gun to her back, and raped her both vaginally and anally. After the assault, the victim was able to flag down a security guard in the area and was later taken to a hospital. She too underwent a sexual assault evidence collection exam, and a vaginal swab yielded a male DNA profile which was matched to the unknown male profile from the two previous rapes.
In the early morning hours of December 23, 2008, the victim, a 44-year-old-woman, was jogging in the area of Terminal Street in Charlestown when a man ran up behind her, put his arms around her upper body in a bearhug, and tackled her to the ground with his right arm around her neck. He put his left hand inside the victim’s pants and underwear, touching her vagina. When the victim screamed, the man said, “I have a gun,” numerous times. The victim fought him off, using her gloved hands to poke at his eyes. After the attacker finally ran off, the victim returned to her home and called 911 to report the assault. As part of the investigation, her clothing, including her glove, was taken as evidence, but no forensic link was established at that time.
In 2022, Boston Police re-opened an investigation into the attacks. According to the DA's office:
They employed forensic investigative genetic genealogy, in which investigators search publicly accessible DNA databases, populated only by data which users have chosen to make available, to narrow the pool of potential suspects. These efforts came to focus on Nilo as a person of interest and he was placed under surveillance in early 2023 while living in New Jersey and working at a 4 New York City law firm. FBI agents were able to obtain various utensils and drinking glasses they watched the defendant use at a corporate event. From one of the glasses the Boston Police Crime Lab obtained a male DNA profile, which was found to match the suspect profile from the three Terminal Street rapes. The glove that the December 2008 assault victim used to poke her attacker’s eyes was sent for forensic testing at a private lab and a Y-STR (male) profile was obtained. Further testing determined that this profile was 314 times more likely to belong to Matthew Nilo than to any other male in the population.
Zerola, whom People Magazine once named as one of the nation's most eligible bachelors, goes on trial on charges he raped the friend of a woman he was dating in 2016.
He was arrested in 2021 on charges he broke into the apartment of a woman he'd met a few hours earlier and raped her - while still awaiting trial on the 2016 charges.