Over the past 8 months or so, there have been numerous sexual assaults taking place in the Hampden County area. Police had good reason to believe that the vicious assaults were committed by the same perpetrator.

In each instance, the victim was picked up in Springfield, driven to a secluded section of West Springfield, sexually assaulted, and then abandoned. This happened at least six times and if more women come forward, quite possibly many more.

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Thankfully, the alleged multi-rapist has finally been caught thanks in part to the testimony of a very brave woman found wandering along the Mass. Turnpike on the night of March 24th.

According to a media statement from the Hampden District Attorney's Office, on Thursday night, March 24, Mass State Police troopers assigned to the Westfield barracks contacted the Mass State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Hampden District Attorney's Office saying they had located a woman walking eastbound on the westbound lane of I-90.

The woman told the troopers that she had just been raped and threatened with a gun by an unknown male assailant. An ambulance was called for by the troopers on the scene and the woman was taken to Baystate Medical Center.

According to the woman's story, she was in the Marble Street area of Springfield looking for a ride when a car, driven by a man in his early twenties, with long hair, and a tan complexion offered her a ride, which she accepted.

She then entered the vehicle and they drove for a short while before entering the highway towards Holyoke and then proceeding towards Bearhole Reservoir in West Springfield.

Then, according to the media statement from the Hampden DA's Office:

The suspect informed her that he had a gun, and then proceeded to sexually assault her. Following the assault, the survivor was left in the wooded area and the suspect fled in his vehicle. She was eventually found walking on I-90 by Massachusetts State Troopers.

The subsequent investigation lead to the discovery that West Springfield Police had been investigating similar reported sexual assaults over the last 8 months. And the scenario was the same in each instance. The victim was picked up in Springfield, driven to an out-of-the-way spot in West Springfield, sexually assaulted, then abandoned.

Thanks to the investigation following the woman's testimony on March 24, which ultimately lead to many different law enforcement authorities working together, police were going to be ready if it happened again. And it did.

On March 30, West Springfield police received another report of a sexual assault that occurred in the Bearhole Reservoir area. The survivor reported a similar experience as previous victims.

Thanks to this woman's testimony, detectives were able to identify the suspect's car that she was traveling in as belonging to 20-year-old Ali Ghaffar of West Springfield. And because of this, detectives were then able to identify another survivor from a February 19th assault.

The survivors of both the February 19th and March 30th incidents were able to visually identify Ghaffar as the man who sexually assaulted them. Then on March 31, law enforcement personnel from several agencies collaborated and located the suspect.

And, as luck would have it, when police located Ghaffar, he was in the process of picking up another woman in Springfield thereby possibly preventing yet another sexual assault before it could happen.

For more on the story, including the charges Ghaffar is being brought up on, plus the dates of the other incidents, check out the Hampden District Attorney's Office website here.

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