Attorney general says 13 rapes in Lawrence, Manhattan may be connected

Sexual assaults in Lawrence, which Attorney General Steve Six said may be connected to seven rapes and an attempted rape in Manhattan that date back to 2000:

  • On July 14, 2004, an unidentified man entered an apartment in the 3800 block of Clinton Parkway and raped a Kansas University student, who was between 20 and 25 years old, who was sleeping.
  • On Dec. 29, 2004, two women, ages 19 and 20, were raped inside an apartment at Highpointe Apartments, 2001 W. Sixth St.
  • On June 13, 2006, an unidentified man entered a home in the 1900 block of Stewart Avenue and raped a 21-year-old woman.
  • On March 22, 2008, an unidentified man entered an apartment at Lorimar Townhomes, 3801 Clinton Parkway, and sexually assaulted a 20-year-old KU student.
  • On Dec. 1, 2008, a 19-year-old KU student was raped in her home just south of Holcom Park.

Multiple rapes in Lawrence and Manhattan may be connected, the state’s top law enforcement official announced Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials believe five rapes in Lawrence, as well as seven rapes and an attempted rape in Manhattan, home of Kansas State University, have significant similarities.

“There are some characteristics about the 13 cases that leads us to coordinate efforts and see what we can do: the age of the victims, the location of the rapes, in off-campus housing, the fact that they occurred during breaks in the school session. Those types of things have led us to work on this in a joint effort,” Kansas Attorney General Steve Six said.

Lawrence and Riley County law enforcement are working to solve 12 rapes and an attempted rape that occurred between 2000 and 2008 in the two university communities.

Six said he’s working with police in both communities to identify the rapist.

“The local police departments have done a tremendous amount of work on this, and they have really carried the ball,” he said. “They have reached out now to other agencies to try to bring even more resources to the effort.”

Next week’s spring break prompted authorities to make the announcement, said Riley County Police Capt. Tim Hegarty. All of the rapes in Lawrence and a majority of the rapes in Manhattan have occurred while students were on a break from school.

“We felt together … that this would be a good time to generate some discussion,” Hegarty said.

Lawrence police have connected five rapes in Lawrence, involving six victims, which date back to 2004 and have occurred between about 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. — during periods when Kansas University students are on some type of a break from school.

In the most recent attack, which occurred Dec. 1, 2008, the day students returned from Thanksgiving break, a 19-year-old KU student was attacked by an unidentified male suspect who entered her home with a handgun about 2 a.m., police said.

The next day, more than a dozen Lawrence officers and detectives searched grassy areas along the Kansas Highway 10 bypass and the area of 27th Street and Wakarusa Drive in southwest Lawrence looking for evidence.

In all of the cases, the suspect is described as a white man between 25 and 40 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, with a slim build, police said. Six said in all of the attacks, the suspect has had his face covered in some way, “making a more specific description difficult.” Police said the suspect has been armed during the lengthy sexual attacks, sometimes with a gun.

Police haven’t always said how the attacker gets into the homes. In at least one of the earlier cases, entry to the home was through an unlocked door.

Lawrence police said their investigation into the rapes has been a top priority, but spokespeople said they had no comment after the attorney general’s announcement on Wednesday. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation also is aiding in the investigation, Six said.

Riley County police also have been investigating eight rapes and assaults, beginning in 2000, that they said could be related. Until the attorney general’s announcement, the possible connection between the rapes in the two communities had been sketchy.

The suspect in the Manhattan rapes is described as in his late 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches and weighing 200 to 220 pounds, Riley County police have said. The most recent attack occurred at 4 a.m. Aug. 7, 2007.

With many of the attacks occurring when school was not in session, law enforcement officials are asking Kansans to be cautious during next week’s spring break.

“We’re encouraging Kansans to take extra safety precautions and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement immediately,” Six said. “We are very concerned for women. We want them to be extra vigilant.”

Hegarty said police in Riley County would take special measures next week to thwart another attack. Lawrence police wouldn’t comment about any proactive measures they plan to take.