Notorious “Superthief” charged with sexual batteries from the 1970’s
Defendant linked to crimes by DNA
Watch press conference here
Boca Raton, FL – In April of 2010, Boca Raton Police Department Cold Case detectives began investigating unsolved violent crimes and missing person cases. Detectives and evidence personnel looked at many unsolved sexual battery cases and submitted items for DNA testing. One case in particular piqued the interest of the detectives; a February 1976 case involving the sexual battery of two sisters. A DNA profile was identified and entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) in November 2011 and was matched to John Arthur MacLean. At this point, detectives began working with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office and were made aware that before July 1, 1976, the statute of limitations on sexual batteries and armed sexual batteries were three and four years, respectively. The Cold Case Unit was undeterred and continued to investigate sexual batteries that occurred in the mid to late 1970’s. They looked at cases with a similar modus operandi and found several more possible crimes that fit the profile.
The first case detectives looked into occurred on February 5, 1976, at approximately 9:40 pm. The suspect entered a home on NE 2nd Avenue, where a 14 year old female and her 18 year old sister were living. The suspect, armed with a revolver, was wearing a disguise and brought a form of lubricant with him. He threatened the girls and told them not to scream, he then proceeded to sexually batter both of the victims. At the time of the sexual batteries, one of the victims was wearing a robe, which the Boca Raton Police Department took for analysis. A DNA CODIS search from a stain on the robe matched John Arthur MacLean. While this incident is beyond the statute of limitations, prosecutors may introduce the facts of this case into evidence under the Williams Rule. Florida’s Williams Rule allows for relevant evidence of collateral crimes to be admissible at a jury trial to show motive, intent, knowledge, modus operandi, or identity.
Boca Raton Police detectives pursued another case which occurred on October 16, 1976, at about 11:30 p.m. The 15 year old victim was babysitting at a neighbor’s house on Malaga Drive, when she heard a knock at the front door. Thinking it was neighborhood kids, she ignored it until she heard it again. The victim looked out the front window then turned around and saw a male walking toward her from the kitchen. The suspect had a stocking over his face and was pointing a handgun at her. He told her not to scream and no one would get hurt. The suspect fondled the victim on the patio and then sexually battered her in a bedroom.
Investigators found another case which occurred on February 28, 1977, at about 8:30 p.m on NE 1st Avenue. The 26 year old victim had just put her two young sons to bed when she heard a noise and saw a male enter the family room through the kitchen. The suspect pointed a revolver at the victim and told her if she cooperated, he wouldn’t hurt her kids. The suspect, still pointing the gun at the victim, forced her into the bedroom, where he sexually battered her.
In both cases, the suspect used some kind of lubricant on the victims and talked to them throughout the ordeals. Evidence from both victims, including sexual battery exam kits, were collected and taken to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office laboratory.
In December 2011, detectives submitted a DNA analysis request to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office lab for the evidence in the two charged cases. In August and September 2012, detectives received reports from the lab which indicated that a DNA profile from both crimes matched John Arthur MacLean.
Both victims met with detectives and confirmed the details of the original crimes. On Friday, October 19, detectives arrested John Arthur MacLean and charged him with two counts of armed sexual battery.
Throughout the 1970’s, there was a common modus operandi in numerous sexual battery cases in the tri-county area. It was suspected there was a serial rapist committing these crimes, which were being investigated by several different law enforcement agencies. MacLean has become a person of interest in these cases.
MacLean was serving time for a 1979 burglary conviction when he wrote a book titled, “Secrets of a Superthief.” After his release from a Florida prison in April 1987, MacLean moved to Arizona, where he was arrested for armed burglary and sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as several other crimes. MacLean has received significant media attention, including a May 1992 article in People Magazine.
Boca Raton Cold Case detectives have had numerous successes since the inception of the unit, including solving the homicide a Naum Rafael Mendez, who went missing in February 2008 and was later killed by Juan Carlos Atenco Camacho; arresting serial rapist, John McKenzie, who was convicted in 2011 of raping two women in the 1980’s; and identifying Michael Anthony Tolbert as the man who committed a 1981 armed kidnapping and armed sexual battery of a woman.
The Cold Case detectives are continuing to investigate unsolved sexual batteries from this time period and are also reaching out to other local law enforcement agencies to discuss cases outside of Boca Raton.
John Arthur MacLean
Pompano Beach, FL
(Photo courtesy of BSO)