It's been more than a year since an alleged neighborhood prowler in the Chester Creek area was identified as a serial rapist believed to be looking for a new victim. Now a judge is expected to rule on whether the charges he's indicted on should be dismissed.  

Thomas Warren, 61, was arrested on July 19, 2018. Watchful neighbors called 911 after they observed him acting suspiciously, putting on gloves and entering a woman's property. 

He was found to be carrying a 3-foot length of coiled rope. The seemingly insignificant detail is one the prosecutor is leaning on in his pursuit of a conviction for attempted sexual assault, an effort informed by Warren's criminal past. 

According to court documents, Warren raped multiple women during the 1980s. He was known to break into their homes and wait for them to return. In at least one assault, he used cord or twine to restrain the victim. [...]

Court records show Warren made no-contest pleas in the rapes of three different women in 1987, as well as an escape charge, for a sentence of 40 years.

One court document summarizing Warren's previous case says, "In exchange, the State dropped a number of charges, including kidnapping and the robbery charges, and agreed that it would not charge Warren in connection with nine other sexual assaults."

In November 2018, an Anchorage grand jury indicted Warren on one count of first-degree attempted sexual assault and a felony count of burglary, charges his public defender is arguing should be thrown out.  

In May, Assistant Public Defender Shana Bachman filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. 

The motion states that while the door to the woman's home was found ajar and Warren was caught standing in her backyard, the state has not presented evidence proving Warren entered the home and, therefore, the burglary charge must be dismissed. As for the attempted sexual assault charge, Bachman argued key evidence used to secure the indictment — Warren's prior convictions — was not properly admitted, according to Alaska's evidence rules. 

Bachman wrote: 

"The State has not presented sufficient evidence to support a charge of Attempted Sexual Assault. In recent Alaska Court of Appeals opinions related to Attempted Sexual Assault, the facts have centered on a specific victim who was touched sexually or assaulted in some way by the defendant. [...] In contrast, here, the testimony is that [the woman] was not home, that the first time she ever saw Thomas Warren was when the officers did a show-up with him, and that he never touched her or spoke to her. It is clear that the only reason the Grand Jury returned an indictment for Attempted Sexual Assault is the presentation of prior convictions; without them, there is absolutely no evidence of a substantial step towards a sexual assault." 

Anchorage Police arrest Thomas Warren, 60, on July 19, 2018. (Credit: Courtesy photo)


The same court documents that summarize Warren's past crimes also detail an assault in which Warren, dubbed "The Clipboard Rapist," gave himself away as a suspect:

"The charges came after Warren unlawfully entered the home of an Anchorage woman, threatened her with a knife, and then, among other things, sexually assaulted her. During the invasion, Warren restrained the woman by binding her with cord or twine. Soon after Warren left the house, the victim freed herself and called police. Because Warren left a notebook in the woman's house, police were able to identify him as her attacker."

According to the plea agreement Warren signed, he was required to provide Anchorage police with taped confessions for sexual assaults he wasn't charged with.

The prosecutor at the time, Steve Branchflower, told the Anchorage Daily News "the confessions will be made part of the record so a future parole board will realize they are dealing with a serial rapist."

An Anchorage Daily News article dated August 22, 1987, reports Warren's plea of 'no contest' to three rape charges.

However, according to a footnote in Assistant District Attorney Michael Ebell's response to the defense motion to dismiss the indictment, the existence of that evidence is now in question. 

"No audio confession has been recovered," he wrote. "The record is not perfectly clear but it appears that prior to making the confession as agreed in the plea agreement Mr. Warren attempted to withdraw his plea and has been in litigation ever since." 

Ebell argued the prior convictions were admitted in accordance with Alaska evidence rules and that the grand jury was properly instructed on how to consider the evidence. He also argued the fact that Warren was carrying a rope and on the woman's property represents a "substantial step" toward sexual assault. 

"His prior convictions establish that breaking into a home and waiting for the female homeowner to come home to initiate a sexual assault is a modus operandi of the defendant. This condo was owned by a single female who lived alone. This combined with the defendant having been to the area in the past, parking his car a couple blocks away and walking to this specific condo is circumstantial evidence that he had searched out this potential victim. The evidence showed that he opened the backdoor. The fact that he did this without taking anything is circumstantial evidence that his intent in entering the home was to commit a sexual assault, as opposed to taking any property. He possessed on his person a rope sufficient to bind the hands of a potential victim, just as he had in a prior conviction. Further, there is evidence that he lied to officers about this rope, claiming it was a belt when he had no belt loops and was not using it as such." 

The last filing in the case was a response to the state's opposition to the motion to dismiss the indictment, dated Sept. 30. 

In an email Thursday, Ebell said he expects a ruling on the issue from Anchorage Superior Court Judge Catherine Easter "any day now." 

If the indictments are dismissed, Ebell said the state would have the option of pursuing charges again if it can address the issues resulting in the dismissal.  

Warren was out of custody on mandatory parole in the summer of 2018. He is not listed on the state's sex offender registry because his crimes occurred before its creation, and in 2013, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that already-convicted sex offenders could not be retroactively required to register in the database. 

He is currently in custody. 

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