Man Arraigned for 23 Year Old Aggravated Rape
Friday morning, thanks to a CODIS hit and outstanding police work, Underwood, 49, was arraigned in Salem Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping. Judge Howard Whitehead ordered him held without bail and continued his case until June 17 for a pre-trial conference.
Underwood, who is serving two life sentences in California for the 1991 murders of Amanda Scott and Rosalie Ortega in the community of Twentynine Palms, also faces charges in New Hampshire stemming from the attack 23 years ago.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate B. MacDougall told the court that on May 20, 1988, the 24 year-old victim was driving home to Lowell when her car was forced off of River Road in Andover. She was punched in the face and forced at knifepoint into Underwood's truck. She was repeatedly beaten and sexually assaulted for hours as they traveled north.
Prosecutor MacDougall said that Underwood eventually pulled over just past the toll booths in Hampton, NH, where he stabbed the victim in the side, perforating her liver. The blade broke off his knife, which was the only thing that prevented him from successfully slitting her throat. He then beat her and left her for dead in a watery ditch off the highway, and fled the scene.
The victim managed to drag herself back near the highway and was picked up by a Good Samaritan. She told him immediately that she had been raped and stabbed, and he took her straight to Exeter Hospital where she underwent surgery and a rape kit. An extensive investigation was conducted by Andover Police and Hampton, NH, Police, along with the FBI, but no one was ever charged.
In 2009, Andover Police retrieved the rape kit from the Hampton Police Department and submitted it to the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab, where a DNA profile of the suspect was generated and uploaded to CODIS. In 2009, investigators were informed that the profile matched that of Underwood.
Following the CODIS hit, a joint investigation was conducted by the Essex District Attorney's Office, Rockingham County Attorney's Office, Andover Police and Hampton, NH Police, which led to the defendant's indictment in both jurisdictions, and his return to Massachusetts from California for prosecution.
The maximum sentences for both or aggravated rape is and aggravated kidnapping is life in state prison.