Western New York is safer now that the Bike Path Rapist is behind bars. For 20 years, the Buffalo area has been plagued by this serial rapist and killer who eluded police capture and threatened the safety of women. Most recently, a wife and mother of four was murdered while jogging on the Clarence Bike Path while her kids were in school and daycare.
With a resurgence of fear in the area, police and investigators went back into cold rape cases dating back to 1981 in a renewed effort to find the man responsible. Amazingly, by interviewing an eye witness from the 1981 unsolved rape, a name was brought up that was not mentioned in the initial interviews over 20 years ago. By following the trail this interview started, police were brought to Altemio Sanchez. Sanchez was questioned after the death of University at Buffalo student Linda Yalem in 1990 but police were unable to place an arrest at that time. With a combination of interview facts from old cases and DNA using current technology, police can connect Sanchez with a 100% DNA match to three bike path killings.
It is not yet known what caused this Cheektowaga man, a husband and father of two adult sons, to rape and murder so many women in the Buffalo area. Neighbors expressed shock and dismay, saying that the man they knew as “Al” was a regular “man next door.” Sanchez was involved in little league baseball and was known to help his neighbors whenever possible.
While family and friends are expressing shock over his capture, police and investigators are insisting that Sanchez fits the profile of a serial killer perfectly. In fact, since the discovery of Joan Diver’s body, they have been asking via the media for people to look to their neighbors and for women to look to their husbands or fathers for any behavior that may seem to indicate a dark or sinister secret. In this case, however, it did not come down to a break from family to capture the alleged killer.
Once the several different task forces all came to the conclusion that Sanchez was the man they were looking for, they trailed him for 10 days and watched his every move. On January 13, 2007, investigators got the break they were looking for. While Sanchez and his wife dined at area restaurant Sole, wait-staff was instructed not to touch anything on his table. As soon as Sanchez exited, his silverware, plates and cup were removed and taken for DNA testing. This DNA ultimately led to the arrest of Sanchez as he was leaving his night shift job on Monday morning, the 15th of January.
With “The Bike Path Rapist” now in custody, women will now feel safe again as they run or jog on area paths. Police did issue a warning, however, that women should continue to be careful when running in remote places and should always consider exercising with another person.