DEKALB DA ANNOUNCES CAPTURE OF ACCUSED SERIAL RAPIST LINKED TO EIGHT METRO COLD CASES
March 4, 2020
Suspect Identified Via Efforts of Sexual Assault Task Force
Decatur, Ga.- An alleged serial rapist linked to eight sexual assault cold case crimes, including five in DeKalb County, has been apprehended. 58-year-old Wesley Cooley was arrested near his Conyers home on February 24, 2020 by the Fugitive and K9 Units of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office. Cooley, charged with Rape, is being held in the DeKalb County Jail without bond. Additional charges are pending.
The current charge against Cooley stems from the April 2017 rape of a female victim in Tucker. He was identified as a suspect in February 2020 following a positive DNA match. Further investigation revealed that DNA evidence from that 2017 crime also links the same attacker to seven other unsolved sexual assault cases throughout metro Atlanta, including four in DeKalb, two in Atlanta, and one in Conyers. The crimes span a period of nearly 20 years, dating back to 1999. The victims range in age from 15 to 38 at the time of the respective offenses.
“A dangerous predator whom we believe has been terrorizing women for at least two decades, is off the street,” said District Attorney Boston. “This is a huge moment for the victims on whose behalf we advocate. We will continue to fight for them; to seek answers, and justice, no matter how long it takes.”
Cooley was identified through the investigative work of the Georgia Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (GASAKI) Task Force with assistance from the Conyers and DeKalb County Police Departments. GASAKI was established in 2018 in partnership with the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) as part of a multi-year, multi-million dollar, federal grant under the Nation Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. The team consists of prosecutors, investigators, and victim advocates from the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, the Atlanta Police Department, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council (PAC), and CJCC (with resources from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and Live Safe) working collaboratively to solve cold case sexual assault crimes.
Additionally, the GASAKI Task Force relies on the ongoing work and commitment of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab to test backlogged Sexual Assault Kits.
“Ultimately, the Task Force is proving what public good can be done by a victim-centered, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach,” said Jay Neal, Executive Director, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. “This is an important project and we are going to see it through—continuing to show survivors that Georgia stands with them.”
Wesley Cooley’s crimes may be more extensive than currently known. He also faces a separate charge of Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony for an alleged attempted sexual attack of a female victim in Lithonia in October 2017. Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by him is asked to call the Day League’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 404-377-1428. Counselors are on standby to assist and to forward information to law enforcement.
About the Georgia Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Task Force (GASAKI)
The GASAKI Task Force was created in partnership with the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) in 2018 as part of a multi-year, multi-million dollar, federal grant under the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. The Task Force addresses the downstream investigations and prosecutions of cold case sexual assaults that have resulted from testing of previously untested sexual assault kits or any cold case sexual assault.
The scope of GASAKI Task Force was expanded in 2019 to include funding opportunities for Cold Case Homicide cases with sexual assault components and advanced DNA testing including genetic genealogy and phenotyping. Cold case consultations and criminal profiling services are also provided by the Task Force to jurisdictions statewide.