DNA key clue in cold case
NJ lawyer alleged serial rapist; fiancée attends arraignment
A New Jersey lawyer arrested for a series of cold case rapes and assaults in Boston in 2007 and 2008 was targeted by a DNA sample collected from a glass and utensils at a corporate event, prosecutors said at the suspect’s arraignment yesterday.
Matthew Nilo, 35, pleaded not guilty to charges related to the alleged assaults and was ordered held on a $500,000 cash bail. He was supported in the Suffolk Superior
courtroom by his fiancee Laura Griffin.
Nilo, a North End native, is charged with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape and one count of indecent assault and battery.
The charges stem from alleged attacks in the Terminal Street area of Charlestown on Aug. 18, 2007; Nov. 22, 2007; Aug. 5, 2008; and Dec. 23, 2008, which prosecutors outlined in brutal detail.
The first two victims, both 23 years old at the time of the separate alleged rapes, reported being out at a bar and high school reunion on State Street when they accepted a ride from a man under false pretenses.
Both reported being driven to a location around Terminal Street, threatened with weapons, ordered out of the car and forcibly raped, prosecutors detailed.
The third victim, a 36-year-old woman, said she was panhandling in the Boston Common when a young man bribed her to get into his car, prosecutors said. When they got to Terminal Street and exited the vehicle, the man allegedly tackled her, held a gun to her back and raped her.
In the last incident, prosecutors said, a 44-year-old woman was jogging near Terminal Street when a man allegedly jumped and assaulted her. Though he repeatedly claimed to have a gun, the woman reported, she fought him off, poking him in the eyes with a gloved hand.
DNA evidence was collected from three rape kits from the first three victims and the fourth victim’s glove. The first three cases were linked to one genetic profile during the initial investigations, but no suspect was identified, prosecutors said.
In 2022, Boston police revisited the unsolved cases, according to Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Lynn Feigenbaum, using newer “forensic investigative genetic genealogy” tools.
Investigators identified Nilo as a person of interest by comparing the DNA samples to genetic information on genealogy databases that users have opted to make public.
FBI agents tailed Nilo in New Jersey and New York, where he worked for a law firm, following him to a corporate event where they obtained utensils and a drinking glass allegedly used by him.
Boston police were able to match the DNA recovered from the drinking glass to the three rape kits samples, Feigenbaum said, and determined the glove sample was “314 times more likely to belong to Matthew Nilo than any other male in the population.”
The defendant’s lawyer Joseph Cataldo said he is withholding comment on the allegations until fully reviewing the case but his client “denies the allegations.”
However, Cataldo said, the public record suggests there may have been some “questionable procedures utilized by law enforcement” regarding whether there was a timely search warrant for the DNA taken from the corporate event.
“If it is true that they didn’t obtain a search warrant prior to obtaining his DNA, then that is something that we will vigorously challenge in the court system as an unconstitutional search,” Cataldo said.
Nilo was arrested last Tuesday at his home in Weehawken, N.J., and agreed to waive extradition during a court appearance there last week.
In addition to bail, Clerk Magistrate Edward Curley ordered Nilo to wear a GPS tracker if released, surrender his passport, have no contact with the victims and stay 1,000 feet away from Terminal Street in Charlestown unless accompanied by his attorney.
Nilo is due back in court at 9 a.m. Monday.