A messenger with a criminal record and psychiatric problems was charged today in connection with 55 dart-blowing attacks that have unnerved women in mid-town Manhattan, police said.
Jerome Wright, 33, of the Bronx was arrested after being identified as the Dartman in a lineup by three women Wednesday night, police said. He was charged with three counts each of reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment.
Chief Joseph DiMartino said Wright is suspected in all the attacks but was charged only in the cases in which women identified him.
Two plainclothes officers stopped Wright on a street corner Tuesday because he fit the description of the man who has been blowing homemade needle darts at the backsides of well-dressed women.
DiMartino, head of Manhattan detectives, said the officers took Wright's name and address and passed it on to detectives who persuaded Wright to come in for questioning Wednesday.
DiMartino said Wright admitted to the three attacks he was charged with but didn't have a clear motive.
"Mr. Wright has made numerous statements to us, none of which has given us real insight into why he is doing this," DiMartino said at a news conference.
The chief said Wright "indicated to us he has been under observation for psychiatric problems." He did not elaborate.
Wright, who is on probation until 1992 for a drug conviction, "works in the area as a messenger and mail room clerk, which puts him on the streets during the day," DiMartino said.
A majority of the attacks took place in the Penn Station and Times Square area, many at lunchtime. Eighteen darts were recovered, and tests showed none was tainted.
None of the women suffered serious physical injury, but the odd attacks had women looking over their shoulders for several weeks and thousands started wearing slacks.