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Serial rapist sentenced to life in prison, linked to many cold cases

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – On Tuesday morning, a serial rapist was sentenced to life in prison for attacks that began in 1993, according to Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office.

L.J. Bertha, 64, was found guilty of one count of first-degree rape, one count of a lesser offense of second-degree, one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of a second-degree lesser offense of second-degree kidnapping, the lesser offense of attempted second-degree criminal sexual conduct and common law robbery.

He was found not guilty of one count of first-degree rape and one count of attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The first attack occurred in October 1993, when the girl parked in a shopping center parking lot on Freedom Drive. According to court records, Bertha kicked the driver’s side window, forced her to let him drive, took her to a cul-de-sac and raped her, threatening to kill her.

He then drove her back to the parking lot.

Berta was found nearby.

DNA testing completed in 2023 confirmed the suspect.

The second attack occurred on July 30, 1994, on another woman. Court documents say she was walking on Beatties Ford Road when Bertha forced her down a cul-de-sac and raped her while armed with a box cutter.

She managed to run to a nearby grocery store, where the clerk was able to call the police.

DNA testing completed in 2023 also confirmed he was a suspect.

(PREVIOUS REPORTS: Man charged in connection with second outstanding sexual assault case from 1994)

The third woman was raped by Bertha in November 1996. In 1997, he was convicted of her rape and served 20 years in prison.

(PREVIOUS REPORTS: Man arrested in connection with unresolved 1995 sexual assault case)

Bertha was convicted under a law introduced in the 1990s when the attacks took place. The sentence includes life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years and 33 years in prison for the remaining charges. They are intended to continue after a conviction for first-degree rape.

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