Serial Rapist Arrested: A Look Inside the Case

Cottom and Johnson


Suspect from 2010 Rape

McGowan 3
Meet Detectives Christina Cottom and Sharon Johnson of the Cleveland Division of Police Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit. These detectives are assigned to the case involving Larry A. McGowan, the suspect recently arrested for four rapes and a homicide occurring in the City of Cleveland. McGowan was arrested in November, 2012 by Akron Police on a rape charge. DNA collected from McGowan matched DNA samples in evidence on the Cleveland rape cases. McGowan is currently being held in the Summit County Jail. It was learned that McGowan was in prison from 2000-2010 and again from 2012-2012.

Detective Christina Cottom was assigned to the case in 2005. DNA results indicated the same suspect in a total of four rape cases (one of which resulted in a homicide) occurring in the City of Cleveland from 1996-2010. The locations of the incidents include: East 93 and Marah Avenue on May 3, 1996, 12402 Griffing on February 2, 1997, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Lamontier on June 18, 1998 and East 79 and Kinsman Road on December 8, 2010.

The Cases were part of a “Cold Case” caseload in the Special Victim’s Section, Sex Crimes and Child abuse Unit overseen by Lieutenant James McPike. Detective Christina Cottom and her partner, Detective Sharon Johnson have spent countless hours examining the evidence in each case.

In 2010, under the direction of Chief Michael McGrath, Deputy Chief Edward Tomba, Commander James Chura and Lieutenant James McPike, and in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the SCAR Initiative was formed. The SCAR Initiative took data compiled and provided by the Cleveland Division of Police Crime Analysis Unit and analyzed sexual assault cases occurring in a two mile radius of the four incidents. During the initiative, fleets of police officers and agents combed neighborhoods, going door to door interviewing residents and potential witnesses. This initiative resulted in fourteen individuals being DNA tested and ruled out as potential suspects. In addition, 85 rape kits were pulled from evidence and forwarded to BCI&I for testing.

The arrest of McGowan provides relief to the dedicated officers working these cases, to the community and, hopefully, provides some closure for the surviving victims and to the survivors of the victim who passed away at the hands of McGowan.