West Springfield man arrested in connection with rapes of at least 6 women

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a consent decree in federal court as part of a civil lawsuit against the city of Springfield.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 11:12 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 7:22 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A West Springfield man is under arrest, accused in several rapes that occurred within the last year.

Jim Leydon, spokesman for the Hampden District Attorney’s office, said on the night of March 24, Mass. State Troopers at the Westfield barracks said that they located a woman who was walking eastbound on the westbound side of the Mass. Turnpike. The woman reporterdly told troopers that she had been raped and threatened with a gun by an unknown man. An ambulance was called and the woman was taken to Baystate Medical Center.

The woman told investigators that she was looking for a ride in the area of Marble Street in Springfield when a car driven by a man stopped and offered her a ride and she accepted. She reportedly got into the car and they drove towards Springfield’s north end, got on the highway towards Holyoke, and then traveled to the area of Bearhole Reservoir in West Springfield.

Leydon added that the suspect then told the woman he had a gun and proceeded to sexually assault her. She was left in the wooded area after the assault and the suspect fled. She was then found walking along the Mass. Pike.

An investigation by troopers assigned to the D.A.’s office found that West Springfield Police had been investigating similar reported sexual assaults that had occurred over the last eight months. In each of those cases, the victim was picked up in Springfield, driven to a remote section of West Springfield, then sexually assaulted. Those incidents occurred on the following dates and at the following locations:

  • March 4, 2022: Approximately 10:20 p.m., Morgan Road in West Springfield (Bearhole)
  • February 26, 2022: Approximately 9:30 p.m., area of West Springfield Middle School
  • February 19, 2022: Approximately 9:30 p.m., Amostown Road in West Springfield (Bearhole)
  • January 16, 2022: Approximately 12:30 p.m., Amostown Road in West Springfield (Bearhole)
  • July 29, 2021: Approximately 12:30 p.m., Amostown Road in West Springfield (Bearhole)
  • June 11, 2021: Approximately 10:15 p.m., Amostown Road in West Springfield (Bearhole)

Since the report made on March 24, investigators from the D.A.’s office, Mass. State Police, West Springfield Police, and Springfield Police collaborated to look into any other similar reports of attempted sexual assaults, sexual assaults, or abductions that began in the south end of Springfield and occurred in West Springfield.

Leydon explained that West Springfield Police received a report of another sexual assault in the area of Bearhole Reservoir on March 30. That woman reportedly explained a similar scenario to the other cases in that she got into a car at Main and Marble Streets in Springfield, was taken to Morgan Road in West Springfield and the reservoir. She left the area after the suspect fled and a resident called police. The suspect’s description in that case was consistent with that from other cases.

Investigators were also able to ascertain a description of the suspect’s car and they learned it belonged to 20-year-old Ali Ghaffar of West Springfield. Through that process, another woman from a sexual assault on February 19 was identified.

The women involved in the February 19 and March 30 incidents were able to visually identify Ghaffar as the suspect, according to Leydon and on March 31, surveillance teams were sent out in an an effort to locate Ghaffar. Ghaffar’s car was located that night in Springfield’s south end as a woman was getting into the passenger seat. The car then went to the Bearhole Reservoir and stopped. Police converged on the car and arrested Ghaffar.

“In so doing, the team had stopped another rape before it could happen,” Leydon said.

Hampden D.A. Anthony Gulluni said in a statement:

“The suspect in this case was preying upon vulnerable women. While his conduct was becoming more frequent and bold, State Police investigators in my office and our local partners marshaled resources over mere hours and conducted an outstanding investigation knowing that women remained at risk. This rapid and formidable deployment occurred to protect the public from further harm. I am very proud and appreciative of all involved.”

Ghaffar was taken to West Springfield Police and initally charged with aggravated rape, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, two counts of threatening to commit a crime, and assault with intent to rape.

The investigation into the other cases after Ghaffar’s arrest and on April 2, a DNA report indicated that a sample taken from Ghaffar matched that of a sample taken from the woman involved in the March 24 case. Those involved in the March 4, June 11, and July 29 assaults were also reinterviewed and Ghaffar is now facing additional charges including:

  • Three counts of aggravated rape
  • Two counts of rape
  • Three counts of kidnapping
  • Three counts of threatening to Commit a Crime
  • Armed kidnapping with sexual assault
  • Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon
  • Assault with a Dangerous Weapon

Gulluni added in a statement:

“Investigators moved with urgency to identify and stop this alleged serial rapist before he victimized more women. We are asking our partners in the media and the public at large to share the picture we are releasing of the suspect, and ask that if you are a survivor of Ali Ghaffar, please come forward and speak with law enforcement. We want to seek justice for anyone who was victimized and to help those people with services and support.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the State Police assigned to the D.A.’s office at (413) 505-5993, the West Springfield Police Department at (413) 263-3210, or ‘Text-a-Tip’ to CRIMES (274637) and in the message, type SOLVE and your tip.

Ghaffar is being held pending a dangerousness hearing on April 21.

Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.