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Forensic Genetic Genealogy Helps Division of Criminal Justice Cold Case Unit Make Arrest in Four 1984 Sexual Assaults

An investigation using forensic genetic genealogy by the Cold Case Unit of the Chief’s State’s Attorney’s Office has led to the arrest of a Marlborough man in connection with four sexual assaults in Connecticut dating back to 1984. 

Chief State’s Attorney Richard J. Colangelo, Jr., today announced the arrest of Michael Marion Sharpe, 69, of 117 Stage Harbor Road. Inspectors with the Cold Case Unit arrested Sharpe on a warrant charging him with four counts of Kidnapping in the First Degree with a Firearm.

“This arrest shows just how dedicated the Division of Criminal Justice’s Cold Case Unit is to solving crimes and the commitment the Unit has to its continued efforts toward the use of innovative methods to close some of the state’s most difficult investigations,” Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo said. “With this arrest, the victims of these crimes who have waited more than three decades to see their attacker brought to justice now know he will be held accountable for his crimes.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Sharpe is accused of the following crimes:

The June 3, 1984 sexual assault of a 25-year-old female in Bloomfield.

  • The June 26, 1984 sexual assault of a 30-year-old female in Middletown.
  • The July 21, 1984 sexual assault of a 24-year-old female in Windsor.
  • The July 24, 1984 sexual assault of a 24-year-old female in Rocky Hill.

In all four attacks, Sharpe is accused of brandishing a firearm while breaking into homes where the sexual assaults occurred.

After years of not being able to match DNA found at the crime scene with samples in DNA databases, investigators were able to develop Sharpe as a suspect in these crimes using publicly available genealogy information. On November 9, 2020, investigators retrieved Sharpe’s DNA from items found in trash left on the curb at Sharpe’s Marlborough home. The DNA found on those items matched the suspect in the four 1984 sexual assaults. A search and seizure warrant was issued to obtain confirmatory saliva secretions and buccal cell samples from Sharpe. Those samples matched the suspect in the four 1984 sexual assaults.   

“Turning to forensic genetic genealogy as a possible breakthrough for unsolved cases shows that the Cold Case Unit’s investigators never forget the victims of these crimes,” Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney John F. Fahey, head of the Cold Case Unit, said. “The investigators believe these victims deserve justice so they never stop searching for clues even if it means looking beyond their traditional investigative tools - no matter how complicated it may be - to ensure that justice is achieved.”

Connecticut was recently awarded a $470,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance to fund the Cold Case Unit’s prosecution of violent crime cold cases and to decrease the number of violent crime cold cases awaiting prosecution utilizing forensic genetic genealogy and other advanced DNA technology.

Sharpe appeared today in Hartford Superior Court for arraignment where the Honorable James T. Graham released Sharpe on a promise to appear in court.

The charges against Sharpe are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Cold Case Unit is grateful for the assistance in this investigation from the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, including the Connecticut State Police and Division of Scientific Services, Bode Technology, the Connecticut Department of Correction and the Hartford, Bloomfield, Rocky Hill, Middletown and Windsor Police Departments.

The Cold Case Unit is comprised of prosecutors and investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice who work closely on cold cases with the Connecticut State Police and municipal police departments. The Cold Case Unit in the Office of the Chief State's Attorney currently includes Inspectors from the Division of Criminal Justice as well as investigators from the Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction.