ORLANDO, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — For decades, residents of the suburban Orlando subdivision of Malibu Grove were terrorized by a serial predator known as the Malibu Rapist. Police say he would target homes with children, break in, and sexually assault the women inside.
Now, 30 years later and with advances in DNA technology, George Girtman has been linked to 26 more rape cases and faces 15 new charges.
Gail Gardner was one of Girtman’s victims three decades ago. She was sleeping in bed with her 9-year-old son when he broke in through a window and assaulted her.
“The next thing I know, I had someone with a knife to my face,” she recalled. “He left a scar on my face that is not still there. But the scar is still there emotionally.”
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Gardner’s rape kit was one of thousands sitting on evidence room shelves, but she never gave up and continued her push to have it re-tested as DNA technology improved.
Thirty years later, there was a hit.
Girtman — known as the Malibu Rapist — was already serving a life sentence in other sexual assault cases. He was not only linked to her rape, but to 26 other assaults. All of them were around the same neighborhood.
Much like in the decades-old Golden State Killer case, DNA advancements were key. In 2018, DNA from genealogy websites matched former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo to multiple rapes, murders and burglaries that had terrorized California in the 1970s and 80s.
But the technology is just one element. It’s also perseverance by police and survivors like Gail Gardner.
“I had already known I was not the only one. But to actually find someone else I could identify with the same perpetrator? That was huge,” said Gardner.