Serial rape suspect faces charges stemming from New Bedford attack
The man accused of beating and raping Brockton prostitutes now faces charges in New Bedford after a street walker there identified him as the person who savagely attacked her two months ago.
Brian Knippers, 35, of Newmarket, N.H., is charged with aggravated rape and kidnapping by New Bedford police after a woman in that city identified him as the person who attacked her in April, New Bedford Lt. Jeff Silva, department spokesman, said Monday.
The New Bedford attack, on April 9, was reported just hours after a Brockton prostitute called police to say she had just seen the man who beat, bound and raped her on the street — and she had gotten his license plate number, Brockton Detective Erin Cummings testified Monday at a dangerousness hearing in Brockton District Court.
Prosecutors are asking a judge to find Knippers a danger to the community and keep him locked up for at least 60 days without bail. The dangerousness hearing before Judge James Sullivan was set to resume today.
Police, after obtaining a search warrant, found rope in the glove compartment of Knippers black pickup truck.
Knippers, who works for a Waltham software company, was arrested June 6 on a string of charges in connection with the brutal attacks on prostitutes in Brockton since 2005.
The arrest came after one of the prostitutes called police on April 6 and said she had just seen the man who had attacked her earlier.
The woman told police the man stopped his pickup truck, and flashed his brake lights in an attempt to get her attention, Cummings testified.
When the woman approached the truck, she told police she immediately recognized the driver as her attacker, Cummings testified.
The man looked at her and then drove off, but the woman was able to obtained his license plate number, Cummings said.
Police traced the license to Knippers and, after further investigation, learned he has had over the years two different colored pickup trucks: one black and one green, Cummings told the court.
In the earlier attacks, the women identified the pickup truck driven by the suspect as green. In the later attacks, the women said he was driving a black truck, Cummings said.
DNA tests showed the Brockton attacks were committed by the same person, according to paperwork filed in court.
Prosecutors filed a motion in court asking that a judge force Knippers to provide a DNA sample, a move his attorney said he will fight.
A date for a hearing on that motion has not yet been set.
New Bedford investigators are awaiting DNA test results in the case in that city.
In all of the Brockton cases, the women said they were picked up by a man in a pickup truck, were bound with either rope or duct tape, then raped and threatened with a knife.
One woman was beaten with a baseball bat and at least one other was hit with a flashlight, according to court paperwork.
The charges against Knippers lodged by Brockton police stem from attacks on Oct. 8, 2005; Feb. 4, 2006; July 11, 2006, and Aug. 26, 2007 in a wooded area off Howard Street.
Also, an attack on a Brockton prostitute in Avon was linked to the Brockton assaults by DNA, authorities said. No charges have yet been lodged in that case.
In addition, state police investigated yet another attack from February 2003 where a prostitute said she was attacked, her arms duct-taped behind her back by a man with a knife and she was then sexually assaulted.
Knippers lived in Rhode Island from 1996 to 2005, according to motor vehicle records, Cummings testified Monday.
New Bedford police learned of the Brockton attacks after Trooper David Reis, a member of the state police fugitive unit involved in the hunt for Knippers, noted the similarities in the assaults, Silva, the New Bedford lieutenant, said.
New Bedford detectives then showed the woman who was attacked an array of photos that included one of Knippers, and she identified the New Hampshire man as her attacker, Silva said.
One of the Brockton women shown an array of photos broke down in tears after she asked to see a color shot of the suspect.
“That (expletive) smile, it’s the same,” she told police, according to paperwork filed in court.
Knippers is an avid fisherman who has posted online numerous photos of himself holding bass. In one of the photos, he is grinning.
On Monday, Knippers remained stone-faced during the court hearing as his relatives sat behind him, listening to the testimony.
Maureen Boyle can be reached at email@example.com.