Alleged Serial Rapist May Have Preyed on Kids for 40 Years, DA Says: 'This Is a Parent's Worst Nightmare'
Pennsylvania police believe they have captured a serial child rapist whose crimes could date back 40 years, authorities announced on Monday
Pennsylvania police believe they have captured a serial child rapist whose victims could stretch back 40 years and who allegedly kept a home of horrors documenting his perversions, authorities announced on Monday.
Describing him as a “real-life bogeyman” and “trophy collector,” prosecutors said they arrested 58-year-old William Charles Thomas, a mobile home park handyman in Falls Township, Pennsylvania.
Thomas is charged with child pornography and dissemination of child pornography, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE. The records show he is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on additional charges in connection with a series of sexual assaults dating back to 1997, including five counts of child rape, five counts of endangering the welfare of children and five counts of aggravated indecent assault of a child.
Thomas was arraigned Friday on his pornography charges but did not enter a plea, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
On Thursday, after a nearly three-month investigation, Falls Township police took Thomas into custody. Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said, “This is a parent’s worst nightmare.”
It took investigators four days to collect and process evidence in the case, some of which is 40 years old and was carted out of Thomas’ mobile home park by the truckload, Weintraub said.
“A lot” of the victims “are broken people,” Falls Township police Lt. Henry Ward said at the news conference. “They’ve been through a lot.”
It was not immediately clear how police believe Thomas may have had the opportunity to assault so many victims over so many years. But police said that in an interview with investigators last week, he admitted to sex acts involving children, including kids he babysat. He told police he’d had a sexual attraction to children since adolescence.
Authorities are asking other victims or anyone with knowledge of Thomas’ alleged crimes to come forward.
A DA’s spokesman says there are no known crimes linked to the evidence that older than 1997, but that could change. The statute of limitations allows prosecution for any identified victims until they turn 50.
“I pray that there aren’t [more victims],” Weintraub said on Monday, “but I expect that there will be.”
Thomas was unable to post bond and is being held in Bucks County prison. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
Falls Township police began investigating Thomas in November, according to court records, after the manager of the Midway Village Trailer Park where he lived and worked told police that a new homeowner found sexually explicit writings on a piece of plywood on their property.
The manager told police he hired Thomas to renovate that trailer for the new owner and alleged that the plywood’s writings belonged to Thomas, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
The handwritten notations gave graphic and disturbing details about “someone sexually assaulting two very young girls, three and six and a half/seven years of age,” according to the affidavit. The person who wrote on the plywood identified the girls by name and provided their physical descriptions and the names of their parents.
Also listed on the plywood was one of the dates and times where this person “first molested a 3-year-old” along with details of the assault, the affidavit states.
On Thursday, after a lengthy investigation, police obtained a search warrant and combed through Thomas’ trailer. According to the affidavit, investigators found an array of incriminating material: They “observed that his bedroom served as a room which appeared to be exclusively dedicated to prominently displaying in excess of 1,000 photographs and pictures which depicted naked children, the majority of which were prepubescent.”
Police, who also searched a storage trailer, found Polaroid pictures of naked children; 500 to 1,000 of pairs of prepubescent girls’ apparently worn underwear, some of which were found hanging above Thomas’ bed; child pornography; adult pornography with images of children superimposed on them; and photos depicting children engaged in sex acts, according to the court documents.
Police also found writings of Thomas’ documenting how he had allegedly molested children as young as 3 years old when he was in his 20s, back in the 1970s.
“Thomas also wrote that he was aware some of the children were either asleep or so young that they wouldn’t be able to disclose the abuse,” the affidavit says.
Calling Thomas a “trophy collector,” Weintraub said Monday of the home, “This was a perverse shrine to his criminal conquests.”
Lt. Ward added, “The human race hasn’t come up with words of what we saw in the trailer.”