Arlington Police Seek Rape Suspect

by January 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm 4,840 36 Comments

Update at 2:20 p.m. on 1/24/11 — Suspect Ronald Berton turned himself in to police last night, confirms police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal.

Arlington Police have named a suspect in a sexual assault case from September.

The incident occurred on Sept. 26 on the 2500 block of 20th Road North.

Police say Ronald Perry Berton, 36, walked into an apartment through an unlocked front door and found a woman sleeping. He sexually assaulted the woman, stole items from the apartment and then fled the area, according to police.

Investigators have used DNA evidence to link Berton with a similar crime that occurred in 2008.

Police say a woman was sleeping when Berton entered her Colonial Village apartment on the morning of Sept. 10, 2008. According to investigators, Berton threatened the woman with a knife and then exposed himself to her. He left without taking anything or hurting the victim, police said.

A police press release at the time included a composite sketch that resembles a photo of Berton provided by police this afternoon.

Berton is described as 5’11” and 170 lbs. He’s wanted for rape and several other charges.

Anyone who spots Berton is asked to call police

If you see Ronald Berton, you should immediately call 9-1-1. Anyone with additional information on Berton’s location is urged to call the Arlington County Police Department Tip Line at 703 228-4242, or Detective Michael Austin at (703) 228-4241. Det. Austin can also be reached by email at [email protected].

  • Westover

    He raped someone two and a half years ago, and he was out on the street to do this?!?!?!? What type of justice system is this?

    • DB

      If you read the article it says that it wasn’t discovered it was him until a DNA match.

    • BoredHouseWife

      No, It hasn’t been legally deemed that. It is assumed that he was the rapist in 2008 based on the similarity of the composite sketch and his photo.

    • Just the Facts

      Let’s get this straight: the attacker in the first incident was unknown (hence, a sketch was done). The attacker in the second attack was somehow determined to be Berton. DNA analysis THEN linked Berton to the first incident. He is now wanted for rape and other related charges. Also, the first incident, based on the news release, was not a rape but a burglary, abduction and indecent exposure.

      The 2010 incident serves as a vitally important reminder to keep your doors locked at all times. Arlington has a very low crime rate but we shouldn’t make it easier for the predators among us.

      • Jason S

        Very low compared to what? DC?

        • Just the Facts

          Compared to D.C., compared to the national average for medium-size cities, compared to Arlington’s own historical rate.

          • Jason S

            Good for us, we are safer than Oakland, DC, Camden, Detroit, etc. When you filter down to force a low ranking, it’s not objectively low anymore.

          • Just the Facts

            What comparison would you like to draw? I offered Arlington’s own historical rate (which you conveniently ignored). Our current crime rate is the lowest since the early 1960s.

            I’ll tell you want: find me a reasonable comparison that shows Arlington is NOT a safe community, and I’ll be happy to take a look at it.

          • Bluemont John

            But what about the rate of *violent* crime, as opposed to crime overall?

            I don’t have the data, but just thinking about all the assaults, rapes, and even murders I’ve heard about near Metro stops in the past 5 years or so, I would bet that it has to be higher than, say, 40 years ago.

          • Just the Facts

            The crime rate is the number of index crimes per 100,000 people. As defined by the FBI, “index crimes” are homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. (In Arlington, however, arsons are reported by the Fire Department and are, therefore, not counted in statistics released by the Police Department.)

            In the early 1960s this rate was in the low- to mid-2,000 range and it spiked in the early 1990s to the mid-6,000 range. It is now again in the mid-2,000 range. A bar graph showing the crime rate from 1960 to a few years ago can be found at

            I don’t have raw crime data (as opposed to the crime rate) from the early 1960s but, in recent years, Arlington has averaged fewer than 5 homicides per year, maybe 20-25 rapes, 170 or so robberies, and about 150 aggravated assaults. The oldest raw data I could find was from 1987 when there were 4 murders, 44 rapes, 360 robberies and 296 aggravated assaults.

            You may be hearing more about certain crimes in recent years but that is most likely due to the constantly increasing communication methods rather than increasing crime numbers. It’s good to seek out the facts.

          • AllenB

            Sounds like Just the Facts has the facts. And he’s right…. today we hear more about everything than we ever did before. The local blogs report events/crimes/etc that we never heard about even a couple of years ago. It’s a good development but you have to understand the dynamic.

          • Jason S

            Again, you are cherry-picking your facts. Compared to the 1960s, crime is down, great. Let’s look at the national average on a per-capita basis.

            Arlington has about 200,000 people, Fairfax has about 1,000,000 or five times as much. IF Arlington crime were “very low” in a real sense and not “very low compared to Baltimore or Detroit and very low compared to when it was higher” then Arlington should be at least as low as Fairfax unless we are now making up new categories like “super duper low”.

            For 2009, the FBI, probably more reliable than ACPD pushing relative figures to show improvement, shows Arlington as having 324 violent crimes. Much lower than high crime areas, but certainly not low at 162 violent crimes per 100,000. Fairfax County has 591 violent crimes for 2009, which is 59.1 per 100,000.

            This shows Arlington has nearly three times the violent crime per person than Fairfax, which is a neighboring county. Certainly there are reasons for the higher crime rates, higher density, more high-crime demographic groups as a percentage of the population, and other reasons, but the fact remains it has a much higher crime rate.

            Prince William County has about 400,000 people and an astounding 662 reported violent crimes. An impressive 165 per 100,000. Chesterfield County (Richmond) has 506 for 300,000 people, 168 per 100,000. Henrico County is comparable to Chesterfield. Loudon County has 300,000 people with 250 violent crimes reported, about 86 crimes; my guess is that much of this is in Sterling.

            Instead of looking at a broad base to find high and low levels of crime, let’s instead cherrypick high crime areas and ignore lower crime areas. This logic is not new, it’s why pretty girls like plain friends and plain girls like ugly friends. Looking better by comparison is still looking better.

          • AllenB

            JasonS – your comparisons are apples to oranges. You need to compare us to like counties – Fairfax is sprawling with much of it outside the beltway. I’m guessing we’re much more comparable to the counties that ring DC – PG, Montgomery and Alexandria. We’re completely different than a Loudoun or Chesterfield. So, in general are crime rates higher the closer you get to a large city? My guess is yes. That’s who you compare us to, not some counties that are half rural.

          • Jason S

            So, we can say Arlington County has a low rate compared to other jurisdictions of about 200,000 people right next to the nation’s capital, but separated by a river from high crime areas, but bordering low crime areas?

          • AllenB

            No, JasonS, you can actually try to have a conversation and say that Arlington has a relatively low crime rate for areas that surround major cities. Is it that difficult to actually debate/discuss something with the snark? Jeez.

          • Just the Facts

            Jason, I don’t even know where to begin pointing out how horrible your logic is. Actually, I do know: right at the beginning.

            You first write, “Again, you are cherry-picking your facts. Compared to the 1960s, crime is down, great. Let’s look at the national average on a per-capita basis.” You then NEVER MENTION THE NATIONAL AVERAGE ON A PER-CAPITA BASIS. Did you forget where you were going?

            You then write, “Arlington has about 200,000 people, Fairfax has about 1,000,000 or five times as much. IF Arlington crime were ‘very low’ in a real sense and not ‘very low compared to Baltimore or Detroit and very low compared to when it was higher’ then Arlington should be at least as low as Fairfax unless we are now making up new categories like ‘super duper low’.”

            What are you talking about? Under what standard is “very low” defined as “at least as low as Fairfax”? One you made up? It’s laughable. (No, really, I actually laughed at you as I read it.) You’re trying to compare a dense, geographically small county with a medium-sized population to a large, spead-out county with a large population. It doesn’t make sense.

            You then cite FBI stats for Arlington and Fairfax. It’s interesting that you go to a federal agency that compiles data from the locals when you could just go directly to the locals. (You also claim the FBI data is “probably more reliable” than Arlington’s. Where do you think the FBI gets the data? You don’t really think the FBI is, on its own, counting crime in every jurisdiction in the U.S., do you?) Fairfax’s own crime data shows that it had 814 violent crimes in 2009: I don’t know why the FBI’s number is so much lower, but I’m suspicious of it, especially considering Fairfax’s violent crime numbers for the previous four years ranged from a low of 953 to a high of 1,044. None of this really matters as far as Arlington’s crime rate goes, but it’s interesting that you accused ME of cherry-picking data.

            The rest of your post is equally ridiculous. As an example, I cite the random mention of Detroit and Baltimore…where did you get that from?

            I’ll sum up as follows and let Arlnow’s learned readers decide for themselves whose argument makes more sense: Arlington’s current crime rate is the same as it was in the early 1960s after coming down from a high of nearly 3 times higher in the early 1990s. I’d say we’re on the right track and that Arlington is a safe community.

          • Jason S

            You don’t see the irony, you stated ojectively “very low” (without qualifiers) and are upset that I came back with actual numbers of jurisdictions which are actually lower. Why they are lower is not germane, just that they are lower and that many places have lower crime rates. Either the crime rate is very low or it is not, it’s laughably stupid to say, “Well, it is very low, except for…” The facts are, for plenty of reasons, crime is *lower* in areas around Arlington than it is in Arlington.

            If you just qualified your original, “Defend Arlington’s Sacred Honor” argument by removing any and all competitors then you’d have made a (worthless) point. Although the argument that higher density correlates to higher crime is laughable as Prince William County has a higher rate than some counties with denser populations. In the case of Arlington, crime is because of density. Fairfax has a higher density than Prince William, but lower crime rates so other factors must come into play.

            Prince William County and Arlington probably have some similarities which cause similar levels of crime despite having some differences, it’s also probable that they have some different causes of crime.

            If Arlington’s crime is higher than some jurisdictions for the reasons you cited, why would Prince William County’s crime rate be as high as Arlington?

            The Arlington County Crime rate is higher than suburbs of other world capitals, does that suddenly not count anymore? It’s lower than the suburbs of some world capitals, so we should take those into consideration for comparison.

            The thing is, when you say “very low”, you are inviting comparison. The “very low” term was introduced by you. So it’s idiotic, and expected, that you would later complain about somebody else using the same term.

        • DC & PG County.

          One of the greatest things Arlington has going for it is the Potomac river.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Just … I think Jason has you on a whole lot of points here.

    First – citing the FBI stats makes sense – presumably they normalize out discrepencies and bias introduced by jurisdictions both intentional and simple artifacts of the reporting method/data accumulation(Like the Arson’s being reported by ACFD in Arlington but maybe not other jurisdictions).

    Second – why does the density matter – you’ve already normalized out the number of people in the jurisdiction, by reporting on a per x people basis. Are you saying that having people jammed in together in highly dense areas intrinsically causes more crime. If so we need to explain this down side of the current development policies of constant increasing density to the board.

    I agree that you obviously are looking for favorable comparable points – why not look at comparing us to the Main Line area in Philly or parts of SF or Orange County CA.

    What I care about is how close crime happens to me and my home. In a high density area – that means if 10,000 people live within a mile of me and the crime rate is 150 in 100,000 there are 15 crimes near me a year. If Fairfax has even an equivalent crime rate but the density is 1/10th, then there are only 1,000 people within a mile of me and there are only 1.5 crimes. Seems like a much better situation.

    • Just the Facts

      I continue to be amazed by the (lack of) critical thinking skills employed by some who post here.

      SNU, you write, “presumably they (FBI) normalize out discrepencies and bias introduced by jurisdictions.” Do they? Did you research their methodology? Your first point is fully contingent on this presumption. Aren’t you curious why Fairfax’s numbers and the FBI’s numbers are off by nearly 40%? (By contrast, Arlington’s numbers and the FBI’s numbers for violent crime in 2009 are off by about 4%.)

      You then ask, “why does density matter?” Seriously? You don’t agree that 100,000 people crammed into, say, 5 sq. miles would provide a significantly greater opportunity for crime than the same number of people spread out over 100,000 sq. miles? It’s kind of hard to commit a crime when you only run into a neighbor every week or so. Or when the nearest piece of property to steal or vandalize is several miles away. Were you really questioning whether population density has an impact on crime? If so, I recommend auditing a Criminology or Sociology 101 course at any local university.

      Finally, your last point actually (and hilariously) weighs in on my side of the argument (as far as the weakness of comparing the crime rate in Arlington to the crime rate in Fairfax). You actually point out that in a less dense area (like Fairfax County) equal crime rates would result in less crime occurring near a particular geographic point. Thank you!

      • Suburban Not Urban

        My third point was mainly – that the current board’s policy of bringing increasing density to less dense areas(As in EFC), leads to crime closer to me. This is what I care about; reduced quality of life. People should remember that when it comes time to vote.

  • Jenny

    Just FYI, I’m a reporter working this case and the subject was arrested last night.

  • Stefan Sittig

    This is great news. Now, next step…let’s LOCK doors. 🙂

  • Mark Kinzler

    I’ll bet it was meehoo.

    • mehoo

      Wow, talk about low.

    • Bluemont John

      Wow–How unbelievably low-class to joke about a rape or to accuse an innocent party, even in jest.

  • Maxine

    I love it – only in Arlington would a couple policy/statistics geeks go at it, do their research and argue the fine points of statistics, AND only in Arlington would readers actually follow and comment on their comments. That’s why I like living her – but I’m also constantly yelling at my kids to “LOCK THE DAMN DOORS.” I feel safe in my community but might as well not make it easy for the occasional person looking for trouble.

  • Maxine

    ugh “living here”

  • Renee

    The woman left her door unlocked.

  • Renee

    Police say Ronald Perry Berton, 36, walked into an apartment through an unlocked front door and found a woman sleeping.

    What did she expect – unlocked front door.

    • Take it down a notch

      So you’re saying she deserved to be raped?

      • mehoo

        Well, no, he didn’t say that. He said “what did she expect.”

        It’s quite possible to suggest that someone should take reasonable security precautions while not saying they deserved to be a victim.

    • Jason S

      Way to blame the victim.

    • Golden Silence

      So the only way, in your mind, for the survivor to be blameless is if she’d locked her door. Man, you’ve got a jacked up way of thinking.

      • mehoo

        Interesting parallel – over on the new “Gone in 90 Seconds” story, where someone left her car keys in the car and it was stolen, the victim is getting bashed left and right for being so stupid. She’s still a victim, it’s still a crime, it’s still wrong, she still didn’t deserve it — but she wasn’t very smart.

  • Stefan Sittig

    I’d like to clarify that my original post was not meant to blame anyone, not even the victim.

    I just wanted to point out that story mentioned that the victim left her door unlocked. Nobody deserves anything bad happen to them–but we also are responsible for our own safety.

    Locking doors, and keeping our belongings safe, and not leaving keys in the car ignition…I would think this all would fall under “common sense”.

    I’d love to live in a community where I could leave my door open at night and leave my precious belongings unlocked and my keys in the car ignition with the car on while I ran some errands.

    But to expect that sort of safety in a densely populated region like the DC Metro area is well..a little stupid.

    And no, that still does not excuse the rapist from raping or the thief from stealing.

    It is possible to comment on one, without the other. Thanks.


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