A Manheim Township man fatally shot himself in his home Wednesday morning when police were serving an arrest warrant regarding two rapes that happened nearly 20 years ago in rural parts of Lancaster County.
The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office pronounced 39-year-old Charles Eugene Musser dead at his home on Sutton Place.
Pennsylvania State Police went to the home to serve Musser with the warrant for allegedly raping two women – whom he did not know – in 2000 and 2001.
Musser was tied to the previously unsolved attacks, in part, by DNA evidence – recently pulled from his discarded trash and matched with evidence left at the scenes of the rapes.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Brian McNally charged Musser with five felonies, including two counts of rape, and single counts of robbery, burglary and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Musser also was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault.
Police went to Musser’s house Wednesday morning about 7:15 a.m. When told of the warrants, Musser refused access to the police and locked the front door with a dead bolt.
After a verbal interaction with police, Musser retreated to a bedroom and fired a single shot.
Troopers then forced entry, breaking a windowpane on the door and unlocking the deadbolt. Upon entry, troopers secured a child inside and removed the child from the home.
Musser was found deceased in the bedroom where he retreated.
The charges were actually amendments to charging documents originally filed in 2005 against a “John Doe.” Investigators used the attacker’s DNA profile – which revealed the same person committed the acts – to support the filing of those charges 15 years ago.
Assistant District Attorney Karen Mansfield approved of the amendments, consulting with police as they worked through DNA analysis reports and other evidence.
“My office approved charges because we believed the totality of the evidence, to include a DNA match, pointed to Mr. Musser as the perpetrator of these acts, and we intended to prosecute him accordingly,” District Attorney Heather Adams said on Wednesday. “I commend the Pennsylvania State Police for their relentless commitment to this investigation.”
Investigators are not aware of any acquaintance between Musser and the two victims; it is believed both women were strangers to Musser.
The rapes happened:
- On the evening of Nov. 10, 2000, on Locust Lane in Providence Township. An elderly woman was alone when a man forced entry into her home, knocked her to the ground and raped her. The attacker kicked the woman in the chest before fleeing the home.
- On the evening of Nov. 8, 2001, on Conowingo Road in East Drumore Township. A woman was riding a bike when she was struck on the head with an object. The attacker forced the woman into a field and raped her. The man stole the woman’s backpack and coat.
Trooper McNally was assigned in 2019 to give the case a fresh look and pursue options regarding the DNA evidence.
Trooper McNally did several things to advance the investigation, to include:
- Creating a chart of every person – approximately 100 names – ever developed as a person of interest and sifting through them one by one. Trooper McNally disqualified numerous people through DNA analysis: individuals with their DNA in police databases since the attacks were not matched to the attacker’s samples, so they were disqualified as suspects.
In April, police collected Musser’s trash which was placed along a public street for pickup. Multiple items in the trash bags were scraped for DNA – matches were made with the DNA left at the rape scenes.
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