A state prison guard accused of being a serial rapist was arrested after DNA on tossed cigarette butts matched with sperm found during sex assault exams of two victims, investigators said.
John E. Kurtz, 43, of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, was arrested Monday and jailed on $1.5 million bail after the match was confirmed using the DNA from cigarette butts discarded Friday and Saturday while he was under surveillance, PennLive.com reports.
Kurtz, according to an arrest affidavit, admitted to the sexual assaults in November 2012, July 2016 and in April. All of the attacks happened in Northumberland County, including the first attack outside Shamokin after the victim’s husband left for work, according to police, who believe there could be additional victims.
The woman told police she encountered a man in her kitchen wearing a Halloween mask who zip-tied her hands and put a ball gag in her mouth. She managed to maneuver the gag out of her mouth and pleaded with the man to stop. He later used a knife to cut the zip ties and fled without sexually assaulting her, she told police.
In 2016, a woman told police she was raped after a man wearing a ski mask assaulted her at her home, using zip ties to bind her, a gag and a blindfold. The suspect told the woman during the rape not to look at him or “it would be her life.” He then used latex gloves and antiseptic wipes after the rape, police said.
In April, a woman reported being awakened in her home by a man straddling her. She was then zip-tied and gagged before being wrapped in a sheet and taken to another location, where she was raped. The suspect threatened to cut the woman’s throat and told her it was her “saving grace” that she had been blindfolded.
The most recent two victims told investigators that their assailant was a smoker and they provided detailed descriptions of a vehicle used during the attacks, police said.
Kurtz, a corrections officer since 2010 assigned to the Coal Township state prison since March 2015, was not on duty during the assaults, according to an affidavit. He is also Facebook friends the husband of one of the victims and had access to his work schedule, police said.
Kurtz is facing a total of 24 criminal charges, including rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault and stalking, PennLive.com reports. It’s unclear if he’s hired an attorney.