A Manchester firefighter and union leader, who was arrested Wednesday and charged with a series of burglaries and rapes of at least four area women in their homes over nearly a 10-year period, was eventually identified by DNA from a private genealogy firm, police said in a joint press conference at the Vernon Police Department on Thursday.

The arrest of Angelo Alleano Jr., 47, of Gerald Drive in Vernon, potentially ends a two-decade cold case into the rapes that occurred in Manchester and Vernon between 2001 and 2008, police from both towns said.

Police said they knew, based on DNA evidence, that the same man committed all four crimes. However, they were not able to identify the suspect until they executed a search warrant to obtain DNA Wednesday after arresting Alleano on what Vernon Police Lt. William Meier described as an unrelated domestic violence charge.

Alleano was arrested in Vernon before being transferred to the Manchester Police Department, where police said he was being held in lieu of a $5 million bond. He was due to appear today at Hartford Superior Court.

The string of sexual assaults began in August 2001 when an 84-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in her Squire Village apartment in Manchester by a man who entered through an unlocked door between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m., according to a 2010 ?John Doe? affidavit written before Alleano was identified as the suspect. She reported that the man threatened to retaliate if she called the police, according to the recent arrest warrant affidavit, which encompasses all four incidents and tied the single ?John Doe? suspect to the assaults based on matching DNA evidence at the crime scenes.

The 2001 assault is the only incident that does not also involve a burglary charge, the document shows.

According to the affidavit, three years later in December 2004, the second sexual assault tied to Alleano was committed, also in Manchester. In that case a 57-year-old woman reported that a man entered her home through an unlocked door in the middle of the night, sexually assaulted her, and threatened to do the same to her sleeping mother who was also in the home. The woman reported that, during the assault, the man asked her where she kept her money, and she told him where he could find cash in the home.

The third assault tied to Alleano occurred in March 2007 when a 37-year-old Manchester resident reported that a man entered her bedroom when she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her after she woke up to hear her bedroom door close, the affidavit states. Unlike the previous two assaults, the woman said her doors were all locked before she went to bed. She said the man threatened to harm her son, who was sleeping in another bedroom, if she called the police. The woman also reported that the assailant asked where she kept her money, and she noticed her purse was missing after he left.

In January 2008, the final assault attributed to Alleano occurred in Vernon. The affidavit shows that a 61-year-old woman reported that a man entered her home sometime after she fell asleep on her couch at 10 p.m. She said she awoke to him placing a pillow over her face and telling her that he didn?t want to hurt her but he did want money. After she gave him about $200 in cash from her wallet, he sexually assaulted her.

The affidavit states that, in each case, the women reported that the assailant hid his identity through either wearing a mask or obstructing their vision during the assaults. He also told each of them that he would either hurt them if they called police, or would be aware if they called police. Investigators also stated in the document that he appeared to have ?intimate knowledge of the victims and their residences.?

DNA evidence from all four cases was sent to the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory, and in 2009 it was determined that the DNA in all four cases was a match, according to the affidavit.
Sasinouski said the firm used DNA evidence and available genealogical information to form a ?family tree,? which police then used to identify an individual of interest and obtain a search warrant to collect DNA. Police said that individual was Alleano, and his DNA proved to be a match.

Alleano has been a firefighter for the town of Manchester for more than two decades, officials in that town said Thursday afternoon, overlapping the period when police say the crimes were committed.

Manchester Deputy General Manager Steven Stephanou said that Alleano was first hired as a firefighter on Aug. 31, 1997, and that he is ?in the process? of being fired from his position.

Alleano?s current salary as a firefighter is $78,646, Stephanou said. He said that town officials were not aware of any complaints against Alleano while he?s been a town employee.