Boston, MA – A New York City-area attorney has been charged in a string of cold-case sex assaults after investigators pulled his DNA from drinking glasses and utensils he used at a corporate event and used the evidence to tie him to the unsolved crimes.
Matthew Nilo, 35, was arrested on May 30 at his apartment in Weehawken, New Jersey, which sits just across the Hudson River from the New York City borough of Manhattan, WCVB reported.
The former Boston resident has been accused of committing a series of rapes in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood roughly 15 years ago.
The four victims ranged in age from 23 to 44, WBTS reported.
Nilo was a student in the area and was living in the city’s North End at the time, according to police.
Investigators said they zeroed in on Nilo using publicly-available DNA databases, WCVB reported.
His defense attorney, Joseph Cataldo, has accused police of potentially obtaining his client’s DNA illegally.
“I do understand that the procedures used by law enforcement are somewhat suspect,” Cataldo told WCVB. “It seems that they obtained DNA evidence without ever obtaining a search warrant. If that turns out to be true, that’s an issue that will be pursued vigorously.”
Nilo has been charged with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, once count of indecent assault and battery, and one count of assault with intent to rape, WCVB reported.
Statement from #FBI Boston Division's Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta on Matthew J. Nilo's arrest by #FBI Boston's Violent Crimes Task Force & Boston Police in connection with several sexual assaults that took place in the City of Boston in 2007 & 2008. pic.twitter.com/bMeDqi5L3L
— FBI Boston (@FBIBoston) May 31, 2023
During his court hearing on June 5, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Feigenbaum disclosed the details of the cases against him.
The attacks all occurred in 2007 and 2008, according to investigators.
“Once outside of the car, the male told her to shut up or he would kill her and that he had a weapon,” Feigenbaum said of the first incident. “The male proceeded to rape her on the grassy area near railroad tracks.”
Nilo allegedly threatened his second victim with a knife, WCVB reported.
“He flashed a small knife at her he then drove to Terminal Street in Charlestown where he ordered the victim out of the car, knocked her to the ground and raped her,” the prosecutor told the court.
The victim of the third rape said her attacker was armed with a gun, WCVB reported.
“After they got out of the car, he tackled the victim to the ground, held a gun to her back raped her,” according to Feigenbaum.
The fourth alleged victim was a jogger who managed to fight her attacker off, WCVB reported.
“A man ran up behind her, put arms around her upper body in a bear hug and tackled her to the ground with his right arm around her neck,” the prosecutor told the court.
The assailant then allegedly shoved his hand down her pants and told her he had a gun before she managed to get away, she said.
Investigators said they began surveilling Nilo earlier this year after he was identified as a person of interest using forensic investigative genealogy, WCVB reported.
The break in the case came after Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents managed to obtain the suspect’s DNA.
“FBI agents were able to obtain various utensils and drinking glasses they watched the defendant use at a corporate event,” Feigenbaum said, according to WCVB. “From one of the glasses, the Boston Police Crime Lab was able to obtain a male DNA profile, which is found to match the suspect profile from the three Terminal Street rapes.”
Investigators said one of the victims was able to poke her attacker in his eyes during the assault, leaving the assailant’s DNA on her gloves, CNN reported.
That sample has since been matched to Nilo.
“This profile was 314 times more likely to belong to Matthew Nilo than to any other male in the population,” Feigenbaum said during the hearing, according to CNN.
Attorney Matthew Nilo arrested in New Jersey for 2007-08 Charlestown rapes. He has also lived in Wisconsin, New York, and California. pic.twitter.com/YgytyDqkpW
— AskAubry 🦝 (@ask_aubry) June 2, 2023
Nilo’s bail was set at $500,000.
He must surrender his passport, have no contact with the victims, and wear a GPS monitoring device if he is released from jail, WCVB reported.
His next court hearing is scheduled for June 12.
Nilo is employed as a corporate attorney for Cowbell, a firm which provides cyber insurance, according to WCVB.
The company said a background check was conducted prior to Nilo being hired in January and that no concerns were raised at that time.
Cowbell confirmed Nilo has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, WCVB reported.
“Mr. Nilo maintains his innocence,” Cataldo said in a statement to CNN. “He was shocked and we intend to contest the matters.”