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November 8, 2012

Alleged rapist back in jail

DNA links Methuen man to 5 more cases

SALEM, Mass. — A Methuen man charged with trapping women in his car and raping them is back behind bars after DNA evidence linked him to five additional rape cases, including one when he was a teen.

DNA obtained from a cigarette butt found at one of the rape scenes links Kenneth Poirier, 40, to unsolved rapes in Methuen, Hampton, N.H. and a 1988 case “where the defendant could have been a juvenile,” said prosecutor Kate MacDougall in Salem Superior Court yesterday.

This summer, Poirier, formerly of Pelham, N.H., was released from Middleton Jail after a Superior Court judge ruled Methuen police had no legal basis to stop his car and arrest him in October 2010 on four counts of rape, kidnapping and indecent assault and battery. Prosecutors went back to court yesterday to fight for the case to go forward.

MacDougall argued the new DNA evidence gives the prosecution a “far more viable case” against Poirier. Judge John Lu agreed and had Poirier shackled and taken back to Middleton Jail where he is being held on $50,000 cash bail.

Poirier is currently charged with raping women on May 23 and Oct. 10, 2010 in Methuen and altering and possibly removing a handle on the passenger door of his red 1995 Pontiac Grand Am to hinder victims from fleeing the car. He has not been charged in the unsolved rapes that investigators have linked to him through the new DNA evidence.

Poirier was released from jail last August when Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley ruled Methuen police had no legal basis to stop his car and arrest him in October 2010. Feeley ruled the 2 a.m. traffic stop in a Methuen industrial park area was a “warrantless stop” and all observations, evidence seized and statements made by Poirier “must be suppressed.”

One of the rape victims identified Poirier from a booking photo taken after that arrest and because of Feeley’s decision, her identification was tossed from evidence.

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