Topeka police are trying to determine whether a 38-year-old man they suspect of raping several Topeka women also victimized Lawrence women.
Randy Sanders, Topeka police detective, said officers think the man may have been operating in Lawrence because he told several victims he was an attorney from Lawrence. Also, Sanders said, it's possible the man targeted Lawrence women because he worked for a utility company and frequently traveled in the area.
During his investigation, Sanders has found 21 women who were propositioned by the man.
Sanders said the man has been arrested and charged with raping one of the 21 women. The detective said another victim came forward recently, so he believes an additional rape charge soon will be filed against the man.
Sanders said his investigation has revealed that the man raped two other women. Sanders is trying to persuade the victims to file charges.
SO FAR, Sanders said he has not uncovered any evidence showing the man actually committed sexual assaults in Lawrence. Sanders urged anyone who had contact with the man to contact either the Lawrence Police Department, 841-7210, or the Topeka police Sexual Assault Unit, 354-9409.
Sanders asked the Journal-World to withhold the man's name and his physical description. By divulging that information, he felt it would appear that police are drumming up evidence specifically against the man.
However, Sanders did release information about the way the man operates.
HE SAID the man victimizes older women. The women contacted by the man range in age from 38 to 64.
"He picks on older women who are recently divorced," Sanders said. "Some of the victims are too embarrassed or ashamed to come forward."
The man breaks the ice with his victims by telling them they look like a former girlfriend or an old acquaintance; that he lives down the street from them and has admired them for some time; or that he has seen them jogging and thought they were attractive.
Then he asks for a date. The rapes occur during the date, Sanders said.
"We feel he may be a serial rapist, and now we're trying to get some victims to come forward," Sanders said.