Man Says He was Central Park Rapist

ByABC News
September 25, 2002, 7:02 PM

Sept. 26 -- More than a decade after five black and Hispanic teenagers were convicted in the brutal rape of a jogger during a rampage through New York's Central Park, a man has come forward to say that he committed the crime alone.

The man, Matias Reyes, is currently serving a 33-year sentence for a string of violent rapes and one murder that he committed in the four months after the April 1989 assault on the jogger, which left her near death and in a coma for 12 days.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Reyes told ABCNEWS' Primetime he beat and raped the Central Park victim, an investment banker, as she was jogging along a little-used, dimly lit side road in the park. "I thought I left her there for dead," he said. (For Reyes' detailed account, see below.)

Reyes, 31, said he acted "absolutely" alone. He made the same confession to prison officials in January and later to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, and told Primetime no one offered him anything in return. "It's time," he said.

Investigators told ABCNEWS that DNA tests have conclusively matched Reyes to semen that was found on the jogger's sock.

The five teenagers have all served out their sentences, spending as much as 13 years in prison. They deny raping the woman, and their lawyers are seeking to have their convictions vacated.

Police who worked on the original case maintain that the convictions are valid, saying that Reyes' confession and the DNA evidence that supports it do not rule out the possibility that the teenagers also assaulted the woman, either with Reyes, or before or after him. They note that four of the five teenagers described the rape in detail in videotaped confessions.

Night of Wilding Convulses City

The attack on the 28-year-old jogger, on the night of April 19, 1989, sent shockwaves through a city that was already reeling from high crime and a series of racially divisive incidents.

Police said the rape was part of a rampage of 12 random attacks by a gang of as many as 40 black and Hispanic youths who swooped down on the park for something the teenagers described as "wilding." Police also said some of the suspects laughed and joked in jail after their arrest, and sang the rap song "Wild Thing."