Dennis Nathan Carpenter was taken into custody Tuesday and charged with the rape that took place in a residential area behind the post office located in the Four Corners area of Silver Spring.
The postal worker was on a break and walking back from a local convenience store when police and witnesses say a man stopped her on the street, engaged her in conversation before pulling a knife and forcing her into the backyard of a home where he raped her.
But DNA evidence left behind is now pointing to a 47-year-old man who has a previous rape conviction and was apparently under the supervision of federal authorities when the crime occurred.
Carpenter has spent the better part of the last two decades behind bars.
In 1991, he was convicted of a rape in Prince George’s County and upon his release was convicted of a burglary and sentenced to prison again in 2009.
According to records filed in D.C. Superior Court, Carpenter had just finished that sentence when he was arrested for robbery in the District, pled guilty to attempted robbery, and sentenced to two years and his DNA taken.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate locator website, Carpenter was still under the supervision of federal authorities when investigators say he committed the rape behind the Four Corners post office.
"Yeah for technology because it could have taken many more weeks and months to confirm that he was actually the one,” said post office neighbor Nancy Tucker in an interview Wednesday.
Tucker was sitting on the front steps of her home the afternoon of May 2 when she says she saw a man fitting the description of the attacker sauntering down the street.
“I was driving by here going back to the station and she was sitting on the curb with a fellow with an arm around her and I thought they were boyfriend and girlfriend,” said Postal Worker Bill Pappas the day after the attack. “That's what I thought and it didn't occur to me that anything was wrong. But then when I came back from lunch, I saw two policemen and a supervisor there.”
In fact, Pappas says he saw the man sitting on the curb with his co-worker near the back entrance to the post office.
At the post office Wednesday, the supervisor on duty declined to comment, saying simply off camera the victim was doing okay, but had not returned to work.
Carpenter is locked up in the District where he was scheduled to go before a judge Wednesday afternoon.
The mystery here is why Carpenter was still under supervision of the feds when police say his DNA was left at the crime scene. Was he assigned to a halfway house and simply walked away? At this time, it is unclear.