19-year-old charged with gunpoint rape in Norristown Farm Park more than 2 years ago

Jim Melwert
October 21, 2019 - 5:42 pm
Mason Alexander Hall

Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

Categories: 

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — More than two years after a woman was sexually assaulted at gunpoint in Norristown Farm Park, authorities have arrested the suspect.

Mason Hall, 19, of West Norriton is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and related charges. Prosecutors say in August 2017, when Hall was 17, he snuck up on a woman from behind as she was on her morning walk, pointed a gun at her temple, and forced her to walk off the trail.

“All the while she was pleading with her attacker, offering him money, her car keys, and begging him to promise not to shoot her when he was done raping her,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele at a press conference Monday.

The woman was so scared, recounted Steele, that she waited a couple minutes before calling 911. Police swarmed the area, brought in tracking dogs, and pulled surveillance video to try to find who went in and out of the park that day, but the suspect had vanished.  

Steele said the DNA didn’t result in a hit on any law enforcement databases, but they kept searching other DNA databases, both publicly and privately available.

Genetic testing of the DNA helped produce a sketch, according to Steele, and it showed the suspect had half European and half African ancestry and was about 25 years old.

Related: 'Golden State Killer' identified as ex-cop, arrested in sadistic crime spree from '70s and '80s

“As a result of this extensive and detailed research, detectives and our support staff identified numerous possible distant relatives of the perpetrator,” he continued. Investigators were able to identify distant relatives before narrowing it down to Hall.

When they identified Hall as a suspect, Steele said they learned he was arrested about a month after the assault in the park for smashing a headlight with a hammer. During the incident, Hall cut his hand. The tool was still in evidence, so Steele said they were able to make a DNA match from the blood on the hammer.

Hall was arrested Friday and is being held on $1 million bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled later this month.

___

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.