College Station police used genetic testing and cellphone data to identify a Montgomery man believed to be connected to at least four instances where a woman has woken up and found a stranger in her bedroom.
Christopher Quinn Williams, 35, was arrested Friday and charged with four felony counts of burglary of a habitation.
College Station police have investigated about 16 incidents since October 2015 in which women from The Cottages and The Junction apartment complexes have reported finding a man watching them sleep. In some instances, the woman reported the man was touching himself and would sometimes fondle them, police said. The man would leave if the woman woke up. Authorities believe he may have entered the homes through unlocked doors, and no property was reported taken, nor physical injuries reported.
During a news conference on Thursday afternoon, College Station police said the prowler's DNA was collected from a number of these incidents and was sent to Parabon NanoLabs, Inc. in Reston, Virginia. There, the samples were tested to determine a potential genetic profile of the suspect.
"Law enforcement agencies across the country use this company's Snapshot DNA analysis to advance investigations where traditional DNA methods have failed to produce a match," explained College Station Police Chief Scott McCollum. "To give you an understanding of this technology, the Snapshot service offering genealogy uses advanced DNA testing in combination with genetic analysis, sophisticated identification techniques and traditional genealogy methods to establish a relationship between an individual and his or her ancestors. For forensic investigations, this is used to engage highly informative leads as to the possible identity of an unknown victim or offender."
While Parabon was working with the samples, another woman came forward and said her apartment was burglarized at The Cottages on Nov. 20. In that incident, DNA was left at the scene, police said. While authorities were on the scene investigating, the woman began to receive text messages from an unknown number. Police reports of Williams' arrest show that cellphone data traced the messages to a TextNow app registered to Williams.
College Station police soon learned as early as 2003 women had made reports against Williams. In a 2005 case out of Austin, police said Williams had been making harassing calls to a woman and eventually broke into her home while she slept. The woman told police she believed she had been burglarized because her dog was wearing a new collar she never purchased and had new dog toys. According to authorities, Williams eventually admited to several cases of sexually harassing women over the phone in the Austin area.
According to a police report, College Station authorities noticed these cases in Austin resembled one of the 16 cases they were investigating. In 2017, a Montgomery woman temporarily living at The Cottages had been burglarized and harassed by phone calls where a man would make sexual noises. The calls, which came from a blocked number, continued for more than a year. Authorities said two weeks after the burglary in College Station, the woman was contacted via phone from a blocked number while she was in Montgomery where a man whispered while knocking on her window. The phone calls were made using the TextNow phone app, police said.
McCollum noted during the news conference that a search warrant for a DNA sample from Williams was granted to CSPD last month. Williams provided the DNA on Nov. 30, but before the warrant's execution, Parabon contacted CSPD and notified officers that Williams was found to share at least some amount of genetic material to samples that had been received from multiple College Station cases. Tarrant County technicians then confirmed that Williams' DNA matched the samples from at least four College Station cases. With this information, an arrest was made Friday.
"We suspect additional charges will be filed," McCollum said.
Williams does not live in the College Station area, and police are continuing to look into where else the suspect may have been targeting young women, and why.
"One of the things we will be doing as we move forward is looking at other communities to determine if there are any other criminal offenses involved in play," McCollum said. "... We don't know how far-reaching it could be."
McCollum noted authorities are keeping their minds open that Williams may not be the only perpetrator, and the investigation remains ongoing. To the women who were victimized, McCollum had a message.
"We are going to do our absolute best to make sure we build the most solid case possible so that justice is seen through. I mean, it's because of every one of [the victims] that we're standing here today, and that we continue on this investigative path to make sure we support their rights to be secure in their own homes."
Williams was released from the Brazos County Jail on $160,000 bond on Saturday. McCollum said law enforcement is keeping tabs on his whereabouts and he is instructed to report to a probation officer regularly. The women believed to have been targeted by Williams were informed of his arrest and are being kept informed on the situation as it progresses, police said.