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Arrest made for rapes on Fort Apache Reservation

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with a series of rapes on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona.

Jimi Aday, 29, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, was taken into custody after being arrested at his place of employment on Friday. He was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual contact, kidnapping and one other offense.

"We are extremely pleased with our law enforcement officers and the cooperation of the tribal community and the Department of Justice to apprehend the suspect who is now in custody," said Pat Ragsdale, the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Aday will be transported to Flagstaff for his initial arraignment in federal court. The BIA did not say when that might happen.

Ragsdale, however, said the BIA will remain on the reservation "because we are not convinced the investigation is complete."

Twelve girls and one young woman have been raped in a string of incidents going back to March. Aday could face additional charges for those cases.

The BIA established a task force after learning about the rapes in August. A $10,000 reward was offered and hotlines were set up to take tips from the community.

As of this week, the hotline received more than 350 tips. That was before Chris Chaney, the director of law enforcement for the BIA, went on CNN to publicize the cases.

Nedra Darling, a spokesperson for the BIA, wouldn't say whether the arrest came in response to any calls received to the line. But she said the tribal community "had several people that had provided information and they've been supportive of our officers."

In an interview Friday afternoon, Chaney said the task force -- composed of seven top criminal investigators and 11 police officers -- was instrumental in making the arrest. "I give a lot of credit to them for getting the leads necessary to develop a prosecutable case," he said.

Chaney also said members of the tribe helped provide information. "We are very thankful to the White Mountain Apache tribal community for their support in this investigation and for coming forward," he said.

The BIA resources were in addition to the law enforcement department operated by the tribe. Chaney said tribal officers gave assistance to the investigation.

"There were two detectives that were particularly helpful," he said.

The suspect eluded capture for several months as he generated fear on the reservation. His attacks took place late at night -- usually between 10pm and 2am -- on a trail used as a shortcut between tribal communities.

Wearing a dark shirt and a hat, both bearing the words "POLICE," the attacker told his victims they were under arrest. He then sexually assaulted them.

Eleven of the victims are under the age of 18. The oldest victim is 20.

With the task force still operational, the BIA is encouraging people to come forward with any information they may have. The BIA in Whiteriver, on the reservation, can be reached at 928.338.5375.

People can also call 1.480.WITNESS (1.480.948.6377) in Arizona or 1.800.343.TIPS, a toll-free line.

Relevant Links:
White Mountain Apache Tribe -

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