Suspect in Athens, Ohio serial rape case arrested

ATHENS, OH (WCMH) — The Athens Police Department has made a major breakthrough in the search for a serial rapist.

According to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, Shawn J. Lawson Jr. was arrested following a long-term investigation conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Athens  County Prosecutor’s Office, Major Crimes Unit and the FBI.

Lawson is currently being held at the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail. He faces charges of rape, attempted rape, felonious assault, kidnapping and aggravated burglary.

According to the indictment, the cases happened between June 11, 2006 and December 12, 2015.

In January 2016, police in Athens released a sketch of a possible serial rape suspect. The cases were linked together by DNA evidence.

According to the Athens Police Department, at about 2 a.m., June 20, 2015, a woman was walking through a parking lot near the uptown area, when an unknown suspect approached her from behind and attempted to sexually assault her. Police said the suspect was scared away by other people walking in the area.

DNA evidence from that case was linked to a 2006 rape.

In 2006, the female victim was also walking home from the uptown area when she noticed an unknown man following her. Police said when the victim arrived home, the suspect illegally entered the residence and forcibly raped the victim before running from the scene.

At the time the sketch was released, Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said, “We will find him. We have the DNA. You can’t run from DNA evidence so we will find him. It’s just a matter of time.”

Lawson will appear in court before Judge George P. McCarthy in Athens at noon on Tuesday, May 9. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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