A Marlborough man and former charter school CEO is suspected in four sexual assaults in four different Connecticut cities and towns in 1984 and has been arrested after a DNA match.
According to the Chief State's Attorney's Office, 69-year-old Michael Marion Sharpe was arrested and charged with four counts of kidnapping in the first degree with a firearm after an investigation by the Cold Case Unit. He is not charged with sexual assault because in 1984 the statute of limitations for that crime was five years.
Sharpe is the former CEO of the Jumoke Academy the Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE). He resigned in 2014 over concerns about his educational background after it was discovered he never completed a doctorate.
Sharpe is accused in four cases:
- 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
All four crimes were reported as stranger sexual assaults in 1984, when DNA testing was not available. Some testing was done in the 1990s that identified DNA at the scene as being from the same offender, but investigators did not have a suspect.
June 3, 1984
According to the arrest warrant, the first victim, a 25-year-old female identified as Jane Doe, reported to Bloomfield Police that on June 3, 1984, she’d been the victim of a burglary and sexual assault. She told police that she was sleeping in her bedroom and her roommate was asleep in another bedroom.
She reported that an unknown man entered her apartment at Sutton Park Apartments through the sliding doors and that she woke up when he was standing next to her bed.
“The intruder placed his hand over her mouth and told her not to scream or he would shoot her and her roommate," the paperwork reads. The paperwork says the man blindfolded the victim, sexually assaulted her, and remained in the residence for some time. “The intruder disabled the telephone which was found in the rear yard, searched the residence for valuables and drank a beer from the refrigerator.” Authorities collected a sexual assault evidence collection kit as well as a bed sheet that the suspect came into contact with.
June 26, 1984
On June 26, 1984, the arrest warrant says a 30-year-old female, identified as Jane Doe #2, reported to Middletown Police that her apartment had been burglarized and that she’d been sexually assaulted. She told police that she was sleeping in her bed when an unknown man entered her place at Trolley Cross Condominiums through the sliding doors and jumped on top of her.
“The intruder put a gun to her head and told her that he had just shot someone earlier for not cooperating. The intruder blindfolded her, disabled the phone, searched her residence for valuables and money.”
The victim told investigators that the suspect led her downstairs to show him where her purse was and that when they came back to the bedroom he sexually assaulted her. “The intruder then remained in the residence asking if there was food in the refrigerator.” Jane Doe #2 told police that she guessed the man stayed at her place for several hours. Authorities collected a sexual assault evidence collection kit as well as a towel.
July 21, 1984
On July 21, 1984, the arrest warrant says that a 24-year-old female, identified as Jane Doe #3, reported to Windsor Police that she’d been the victim of burglary and sexual assault. She told police that she’d been sleeping in her bed when an unknown man entered her place at Rivers Bend Apartments through the sliding doors. She says she woke up to the man putting a gun to her head.
“The intruder then sat her in a chair, still blindfolded while he searched her residence of valuables and money, disabled the telephone, tampered with the correct time on her clocks, and ran water from faucets cloaking his departure.” Jane Doe #3 told police that she guessed the man stayed at her place for hours. Authorities collected a sexual assault evidence collection kit as well as a wash towel.
July 24, 1984
On July 24, 1984, the arrest warrant says a 24-year-old female, identified as Jane Doe #4, reported to Rocky Hill Police that her apartment had been burglarized and that she’d been sexually assaulted. She told police she was sleeping in bed with her two-year-old daughter when an unknown man entered her place at Westege Apartments through the sliding doors. She reported that she woke up to the suspect pointing a gun to the side of her face.
“The intruder told her not to scream as he began to touch her. Jane Doe #4 requested to move her daughter into another room prior to the assault. The intruder blindfolded her and additionally stuffed cotton balls into the blindfold. The intruder guided Jane Doe #4 who was carrying her sleeping daughter to another bedroom where she was placed onto the bed. The intruder guided Jane Doe #4 back to the bedroom from where she came and sexually assaulted her. The intruder stayed in the residence post assault, the telephone line was disabled, he searched for valuables and made himself something to eat.” Jane Doe #4 told police that she guessed the man stayed for more than an hour. The arrest warrant says the suspect left the water faucets running to hide his departure.
The arrest warrant says detectives in 1984 did not have the benefit of DNA but believed the crimes were committed by the same person because of similarities in the crimes, including the victim’s homes being close to major highways and the description of the suspect’s speech and demeanor.
New DNA Technology
In other court paperwork, investigators say “subsequent developments in technology led to the DNA analysis of evidence from the scenes of the four attacks linking them to the same, unidentified male profile.”
The state recently received a federal grant of $470,000 aimed to help fund investigations into violent cold case crimes. The Cold Case Unit is using forensic genetic genealogy and other advanced DNA to revisit these old cases.
Sharpe was identified as a suspect using information from publicly available genealogy data. On November 9, investigators collected his DNA from trash left at the curb. That sample matched DNA collected from all four sexual assault cases.
"They were able to upload this to public sourced databases such as GEDmatch and family tree and what happened from there we were able to generate a cousin, they were able to from that create a family tree. The genealogist going up first to a level that allowed them to come down to potential suspects. They gave us four people of interest," explained John F. Fahey, supervisor assistant states attorney for the Cold Case Unit.
Fahey explained that their use of that publicly available genealogy data is just another investigative tool to help them track down a suspect.
The victims in each case are still alive and two still live in Connecticut. Fahey said investigators were met with "unanimous joy" when they contacted the victims to let them know of the developments in their cases.
"One said to me when we told her we were getting close she goes maybe I'll be able to sleep three hours instead of two hours now. "And another one said it was the reason she never got married," Fahey said. "I don't think until you've been there as a victim or a victim's family that you can truly understand the devastating loss, and that it never leaves you even if it does get solved it will always be there."
Prosecutors said it is possible there may be additional victims and that the investigation continues.
Sharpe appeared in court Tuesday and was released on a promise to appear. His attorney, Michael Chambers, offered the following statement:
"Mr. Sharpe is thankful for the results of today’s hearing. He like any other defendant continues to enjoy a presumption of innocence. The arrest warrant describes very serious accusations. However, the search warrant which contains much of the DNA and other forensic reports the state is relying on is sealed for 14 days. Thus, I have not had an opportunity to review the tests results that allegedly link Mr. Sharp to these crimes. I’m sure the state will provide the documents as soon as they become available. We look forward to reviewing them at that time."