GLOUCESTER — A man who recently completed a state prison term for a pair of 2019 burglaries in Gloucester has now been linked to at least three others that occurred around that time — by the DNA sample he was required to submit as a result of his conviction.
George Donahue, 46, of 85½ Prospect St., Gloucester, was indicted last week on charges of breaking and entering in the nighttime, larceny, and malicious destruction of property, in connection with three unsolved burglaries from April 2019.
The new charges, which were first filed by Gloucester police in January, come after the state police crime lab compared a DNA profile taken from a water bottle left behind at one of the unsolved burglaries with Donahue’s DNA profile.
That profile had been created as a result of Donahue’s 2020 guilty plea in two other Gloucester burglaries from 2019, at the Causeway Restaurant and Wellspring House, a nonprofit. (Under state law, people convicted of a felony that carries state prison time must provide a DNA sample before they leave prison.)
The two were among 10 burglaries in Gloucester between February and April, police said at the time.
Court records show that Donahue pleaded guilty to the Causeway and Wellspring break-ins, and was sentenced to three to four years in state prison, followed by three years of probation. With credit for the time he spent awaiting trial, Donahue was released in 2021.
Last fall, Gloucester police detectives were notified that the state police lab had found a match between Donahue’s DNA profile and the DNA from the mouth and lid of a “W.B. Mason Blizzard” water bottle they found inside Sea Shore Sales, one of three businesses that had been burglarized on April 24, 2019.
Prosecutors also allege that it was Donahue who broke into Eastern Appraisal Services — where he allegedly stole $27,000 in cash — and the Law Offices of Stephen Ouellette and Thomas Vawter on the same night. All three businesses are located in the same plaza on Eastern Avenue.
Detectives re-interviewed witnesses and victims in the case, and each of them confirmed that Donahue had never been to their businesses for any reason that might explain the presence of his DNA on the water bottle.
Based on that, Gloucester police filed a criminal complaint against Donahue in January. He was arrested later that month and pleaded not guilty during his initial court appearance.
Last Wednesday’s indictment moves the case from Gloucester District Court to Salem Superior Court, where Donahue will be re-arraigned at a date to be determined.
While Donahue is still on probation in the other 2019 burglaries, he is not charged with a probation violation because the break-ins for which he’s now being charged occurred before his arrest in the Causeway and Wellspring break-ins.
Donahue’s DNA has also been linked to evidence left behind at a Medford crime scene in 2016, according to court papers.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis