Home News Stories 2011 December Seeking Potomac River Rapist Video: Cold Case Killer

Video: Cold Case Killer

 Download (493MB)


On a summer day in 1998, 29-year-old newlywed Christine Mirzayan was walking home alone in a historic neighborhood of Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

She had just attended a cookout with her fellow interns from the National Academy of Sciences.

But Christine never made it up these stairs, a local landmark, to her temporary housing on the Georgetown University campus.

Investigators say she was dragged into this wooded area and raped and then murdered with a 73-pound rock.

Investigators believe Christine’s killer is responsible for at least eight other attacks in the Potomac Valley region of Maryland.  They’re calling him the “Potomac River Rapist,” and he remains at large.

The FBI and its law enforcement partners are working together to close this cold case and need your help.

A reward of up to 25,000 dollar is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Potomac River Rapist.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen: “It’s important that we find that individual who is still on the loose so he can not only be accountable for the crimes he committed but also can’t hurt anyone else.”

In Christine’s case, a witness driving along Canal Road saw a man trailing her as she walked home.

Another man walking his dog on a cliff above heard Christine’s screams.

Her body was discovered the next day…and her purse was found months later in the Potomac River.

Since then, the FBI Laboratory has used DNA technology to link Christine’s murderer to seven other rapes in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Captain Michael Farish, Metropolitan Police Department: “We work with Montgomery County and the FBI because we’ve seen a link between these cases and the sexual assaults.”

Investigators say the rapes and one attempted rape date back to May 1991 and happened within an eight-mile radius in Maryland. They say the “Potomac River Rapist” has strong ties to the area.

They also say the rapist-turned-murderer attacked each of his victims in the same way—inside their homes, often with their children present.

Captain David Gillespie, Montgomery County Police Department: “He would cover their head with like a pillowcase or another blanket and then would commit his crime.”

The FBI is interested in speaking with an individual whom investigators say may have information about these attacks. Witnesses have provided enough information for this composite sketch.

The man is African-American, between 5-8 and 5’11 with a medium build.

This is what investigators say he would look like today. He is believed to be in his late-40s to late 50s.

Ronald Hosko, special agent in charge, Washington Field Office: “Even the tiniest tip can bring someone to justice in a case like this, we don’t forget the victims, nor are we trying to forget about potential future victims of this subject.”

If you have any information visit the FBI website at www.fbi.gov/potomacriverrapist or dial 1-800-CALL-FBI.  You can also contact your local FBI office. Tips can remain anonymous.

Task Force Members

MCPD shieldMPD shieldFederal Bureau of Investigation SealUnited States Attorney’s Office Seal
Montgomery County Police Department,
Metropolitan Police Department
District of Columbia
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington Field Office
United States
Attorney’s Office

District of Columbia


Potomac River Rapist Billboard
View larger image
A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Potomac River Rapist case. Law enforcement agencies are asking anyone with information to contact the following authorities. All tips may remain anonymous:   
Metropolitan Police Department
- Call (202) 727-9099
- Text message the Text Tip Line at 50411 
- Call (202) 278-2000
- Submit a tip at  tips.fbi.gov.
Potomac River Rapist
Nametag (video) Video: Cold Case Killer
hristine Mirzayan was a 29-year-old intern who was murdered on a summer night in 1998. Help us catch her killer. Watch Video
U.S. Attorney (video)
Video: Potomac River Rapist
Investigators encourage the public to come forward with information about the murderer and serial rapist. Watch Video
map thumbnaiul Map & Timeline
The Potomac River Rapist attacked 10 women from 1991 to 1998 in the greater Washington area. Details
rock Photo Gallery
Images of Christine Mirzayan, some of her personal effects, the crime scene, and more. Details
vicap poster (thumbnail) Offender Description
View composite sketches and read a description of the unidentified man sought for questioning in the case. Details
Wanted by the FBI podcast Podcast
A new electronic media campaign enlists the public’s help to catch the Potomac River Rapist. Details