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Sexual assault suspect in custody in New York

West Fargo Police Department officials are confident they have identified the man responsible for the November, 2005, sexual assault by knifepoint of a 73-year-old West Fargo woman.

A former West Fargo resident, Michael Jerome Waller Jr., 23, living in Yonkers, New York, was arrested Tuesday, Sept. 18, on a Cass County felony warrant for gross sexual imposition and burglary following confirmation of DNA testing linking him to the rape.

Waller, who lived about five blocks from the victim, is waiving extradition to North Dakota. West Fargo Police Detective Sergeant Greg Warren said a hearing is set on the extradition today (Wednesday).

At the time of the assault, there were no suspects but Warren said approximately seven months ago, the Department received some new information regarding Waller. "We had known about him for some other things he had been investigated for but he didn't come up involved in this incident. Then we received word that he was in jail in New York for a similar incident."

This incident was the sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman in the hallway of a Yonkers apartment building which had a surveillance video running. Waller used a knife similar to the one used in the West Fargo assault.

He subsequently spent nine months in jail for the attack and was released last April. At that time, Waller submitted a DNA sample required by New York law that was placed in a nationwide database system.

Warren said it was after hearing about this incident that a couple of West Fargo individuals familiar with Waller called and said they were concerned because the two cases were tying together.

West Fargo Police were in contact with Yonker Police, and found out that Waller had indeed been jailed for an assault similar to the West Fargo incident but involving a much younger victim. DNA testing between Waller and the West Fargo victim was confirmed approximately three weeks ago. "Police there helped us tremendously, and we believe we have the right individual at this point," Warren said.

Waller remains in jail in New York pending the extradition hearing. Warren added that once Waller arrives back in North Dakota, an additional DNA test will be conducted locally to insure the match.

Warren said the victim of the 2005 incident is relieved to see that suspect has finally been arrested, and is looking for resolution to the case.