A UC Berkeley employee was arrested as he arrived at work in downtown Berkeley on Thursday on suspicion of serially raping women throughout Northern California over a 15-year period.

Authorities identified Roy Charles Waller, 58, as the so-called “NorCal Rapist,” who reportedly assaulted women in six counties between 1991 and 2006. In some cases, the man used a gun, bound the women, burglarized their homes or brought them to ATMs so they could take out cash for him, said Sacramento authorities at a Friday morning press conference.

He “terrorized women… typically for hours at a time,” said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn.

In a statement issued Friday, UC Berkeley representatives said they were “shocked” to hear of Waller’s arrest.

Waller has worked in the Environment, Health and Safety office since 1992, managing safety training for the handling of heavy machinery and equipment, the campus statement said.

“According to UCPD and the Sacramento Police Department there is no indication that any crimes occurred within the campus community, however UCPD will be reviewing any open sexual assault cases to determine if any might be related,” the statement said.

Roy Charles Waller, identified by police Friday as the “NorCal Rapist,” was arrested as he arrived at his UC Berkeley workplace on Addison Street (at Oxford) Thursday. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

Waller lives in Benicia, according to Sacramento police. The assaults occurred in Sonoma, Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo, Butte and Sacramento counties.

“For 27 years, there has been one common thread, his DNA,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert at the press conference in front of the office’s crime lab. DNA evidence was collected at crime scenes over several years.

Just like in the recent Golden State Killer arrest, investigators used GEDmatch, a free, online genealogy database, to search for family members of the suspect and begin building a family tree.

“That led us very quickly to this individual,” Schubert said. Authorities then went back and collected a new sample from Waller, whose profile matched descriptions and apparent surveillance footage of the suspect, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The practice of DNA analysis for criminal investigations through online genealogy services, and the implications for people who choose to upload their genetic profiles to those websites, has generated significant debate since the Golden State Killer arrest in April.

Waller has been charged in Sacramento County with 12 felony counts of sexual assault against two victims, with allegations of burglaries and the use of a gun in both cases. In total, the NorCal Rapist is thought to have assaulted at least 10 women, authorities said.

A conviction could carry a life sentence. A 1994 “one-strike law” allows life sentences for entrance into a home with the intent of committing rape, using a weapon or committing a burglary, Schubert said.

Investigators are looking into the possibility of additional assaults tied to the case.

Sacramento authorities said UC Berkeley staff members have been “very cooperative” and are “working collaboratively” with law enforcement there.

On Friday, several of Waller’s coworkers in the Environment, Health and Safety office declined to comment on the arrest of their colleague.

Waller is being held in Sacramento without bail. His arraignment is set for Monday.

Natalie Orenstein

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...