Archive for Friday, November 12, 2010

Serial rapist cases in Lawrence, Manhattan still unsolved 10 years after first attack

Lawrence detectives and police officers search an area near Kansas Highway 10 bypass at 27th Street and Wakarusa Drive on Tuesday morning, Dec. 2, 2008. The search was related to a sexual assault reported Monday, December 1.

Lawrence detectives and police officers search an area near Kansas Highway 10 bypass at 27th Street and Wakarusa Drive on Tuesday morning, Dec. 2, 2008. The search was related to a sexual assault reported Monday, December 1.

November 12, 2010

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Additional information about the cases provided in past media accounts

• Sometimes a knife or gun is used during the attacks.

• At least the first five crimes in Manhattan occurred in second-floor apartments.

• Victims’ ages ranged from late teens to late 20s.

• Some victims were college students.

• First three crimes occurred at the same apartment complex in Manhattan.

• All crimes occurred during some sort of college break.

• All of the crimes — except for one — occurred between the hours of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

• One incident involved two victims.

• In at least one case, the victim was blindfolded during the attack.

• No information has been provided by police about any forensic evidence left at the crime scenes.

National experts profile serial rapist

The Journal-World consulted with two nationally known experts in the area of serial rape. From the facts of the cases, both were able to provide some basic profiling information on the rapist — as well as some predictions for the rapist’s future behavior.

Suspect description

• White male

• Height between 5-foot-9 and 6-foot

• 25-40 years of age

• Slim build

• Usually armed with a weapon and wears some sort of garment to cover his face.

• Suspect is possibly conducting some sort of surveillance before each attack.

Information from the Kansas Attorney General's office.

Cases connected

In 2008, police in Lawrence and Manhattan began saying that they believed the same man was responsible for the rapes in both cities. According to a news release, that connection was made from this evidence:

• Similar suspect description.

• Victim similarities (college-age women).

• Location of attacks (off-campus housing where students often live).

• Time of attacks (late night, during school breaks).

Information from the Kansas Attorney General's office.

Update

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office, in conjunction with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, is now in charge of the investigation — supported by assistance from Lawrence Police and Riley County Police. A representative from the Attorney General’s Office said there were no updates on the case, and declined repeated interview requests from the Journal-World to discuss the case. The last case law enforcement have connected to the serial rapist was the Dec. 1, 2008, rape of a Lawrence woman.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call any of these:

• Lawrence Police Department Investigations Division (785) 830-7430.

• Douglas County Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline (785) 843-TIPS.

• Riley County Police Department (785) 537-2112.

• Riley County Crime Stoppers (785) 539-7777.

During fall 2000 — when Kansas State University students were on break from classes — a man raped a woman at a Manhattan apartment.

The apartment complex, University Commons Apartments, was a short distance from campus.

The attack that night was the first in what local and state authorities believe is a string of 13 more rapes. The attacker, authorities say, has committed at least eight rapes in Manhattan and another six in Lawrence.

The targets are all the same: young women. Many of the rapes occurred in apartments or in houses that are near KSU or Kansas University campuses.

This serial rapist last attacked nearly two years ago. And, it seems, awareness of this danger among young women who live in the college towns is fading. Local and state law enforcement officials will say little about the rapist or his attacks. And they remain tight-lipped about any progress they’re making in finding the man. Meanwhile, experts say there’s a strong possibility that the man known simply as “the serial rapist” may never be caught.

‘Guard down’

Kansas University junior Chelsea Linden hadn’t heard about the serial rapist when she first came to KU in 2008.

But following the last known crime — a Dec. 1, 2008, rape of a Lawrence woman — Linden learned some of the general details of the case: the rapist strikes late at night during some kind of college break, targets college-age women and stalks his victims before the attack.

Nearly two years later, however, awareness of the case has decreased among her circle of friends.

“I wouldn’t say it hits our radar too often,” said Linden, who lives with four other women near campus.

And with a cyclical college population, some incoming freshman may never have heard about the case, said Kathy Rose-Mockry, director of KU’s Emily Taylor Women’s Resource Center.

“Our population changes every year. I’m sure there are students who aren’t aware,” she said.

It’s a dynamic that could erase all the education police and advocates provided just several years ago, said Mary Todd, a clinical psychologist and director of the K-State Women’s Center.

“I am concerned that as time goes by you don’t hear of a big scary crime and people start to let their guard down,” she said.

While the case details can cause some discomfort, it’s important to keep the case current in the minds of young women, Rose-Mockry said.

School breaks bring the seemingly obligatory warnings from campus and local authorities, as all of the crimes associated with the serial rapist have occurred during some school break — winter, spring, Thanksgiving, or summer break. It’s important to be vigilant, officials say.

Lock your doors, as police believe the rapist entered through unlocked windows or doors.

Be aware of your surroundings, as police warn that the rapist “stalked” his victims prior to the attack.

While the warnings may seem like common-sense advice, Todd says acting on each one adds up.

“The more items that you add to lessen your risk, the less your chances” of being a victim are, she said.

Catching a predator

If police have made any progress in the case, they’re not talking about it, nor are they releasing details about even some of the basics of the cases — such as the general location, weapon used or ages of the victims.

Spokesmen for both the Lawrence Police and Riley County Police referred all questions about the case to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, which is now coordinating the investigation with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Requests for further information, as well as a request for an interview to discuss progress on the case, were declined by the AG’s office.

“There’s nothing new,” said Gavin Young, communications director for the AG’s office.

Despite a lack of details, experts in the field of serial rape say there are some inferences they can make about the suspect and what police are doing to catch him.

Janet Warren, a professor at the University of Virginia who has consulted for the FBI and other law enforcement on cases of serial rape and murder, said a first step in the process is creating a criminal profile based on what police know from each crime scene.

“It’s like creating a videotape in your mind of what exactly would happen,” said Warren of the process she goes through when investigating cases.

Warren provided some basic details about whom she would suspect in the case: a socially awkward person who experienced a rough childhood, lived near the scene of the first crimes and who has probably been involved with the criminal justice system before.

“I just think he was a young guy who thought these were hot, young women and he got away with it and liked doing it,” she said.

After committing the first three rapes at the same apartment complex, and the first five crimes, in Manhattan, the rapist moved his crimes to Lawrence in 2004 — a move that Warren said likely was to avoid detection. The move also is evidence that the young offender was maturing and becoming more sophisticated in his crimes, she said.

Stephen Thompson, a Michigan-based criminal investigation consultant who works with law enforcement agencies across the country developing profiles of sex offenders, said as a predator’s skills improve, it becomes increasingly difficult for police to catch him.

“There’s just not enough there,” said Thompson of cases like these where an offender is patient and smart about his crimes.

And with any sex crime, a first question people have is why police haven’t caught the rapist using DNA evidence.

Police have never said whether such evidence has been collected at the scenes, and Thompson said some criminals have learned ways to remove such evidence. There’s also the chance that even if there is DNA evidence, the suspect might not be in an offender database. He’s been lucky, and careful, Thompson said.

“He’s consistently not making mistakes.”

After a decade, that’s not likely to change, he said.

The odds of catching this rapist are “probably pretty slim,” he said. “My sense is that it may never be closed.”

After a two-year lull in the crimes, there are a number of reasons why the crimes stopped and it’s possible the man may never rape again in this area, Warren said.

“He may have moved to another part of the country. He may have been incarcerated. He may have gotten sick,” she said.

Final barrier to healing

None of the victims could be reached for an interview, but Todd, who has counseled several of those women, said that as years pass, hopes fade that the rapist will ever be caught.

“One of his victims tells me that she prays he will turn himself in,” she said.

Despite the trauma, Todd says the victims she’s still in touch with — who now live in communities across the country — have worked through the experience and become stronger women.

“They’re so full of life. They live full lives,” she said. However, “that came out of therapy, of pain, of families that were shaken to their very core.”

The unsolved nature of the crimes will remain a final barrier in the healing process, she said.

For the victims, catching the offender is “the best thing that could happen to them,” she said. “It’s impossible to have complete closure while the person who assaulted you is still out there.”

Google Map

Serial rapist in Lawrence


View Serial Rapist in Lawrence in a larger map

Locations and other demographic information about the possible area serial rapist. Information compiled from police and past media reports.

Google Map

Serial rapist in Manhattan


View Serial Rapist in Manhattan in a larger map

Locations and other demographic information about the possible area serial rapist. Information compiled from police and past media reports.

Comments

Edward Coan 4 years, 9 months ago

The guy looks pretty normal to me but thats the whole point on his profile.

wmathews 4 years, 9 months ago

Looking at that link again, I changed the photo. We couldn't find a photo of Dr. Janet Warren to add.

BigPrune 4 years, 9 months ago

I wonder if the guy is from Topeka since Topeka is between Lawrence and Manhattan, and we know from history that most high profile crimes in Lawrence come from Topekans.

doc1 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm voting he's in the Military and that's why the timing is sparatic and the lack of evidence suggests he knows what he's doing.

reality 4 years, 9 months ago

Military officials now have to provide DNA.

kernal 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm wondering if the LPD & MPD have checked with Lincoln, NE & Columbia, MO. This guy maybe going to adjacent states as well since his attacks are sporadic.

kernal 4 years, 9 months ago

Maybe a maintenance person, so his presence at the locations does not seem unusual?

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

If you want to deter crimes against yourself and your property, their is no better friend than a Chow Chow. They are a medium sized dog that is fiercely loyal and relentless in it's attack.

dudley 4 years, 9 months ago

A seasonal worker-lawn maintenance, snow removal, perhaps or cable-installer, pizza delivery or computer-in-home tech or exterminator, even telephone repairman. It would have to be someone who can observe as a routine and yet remain obscure. A daily maintenance man would be too well known, even by his voice. These are apartments/condo type units, thus those positions would allow access. Lastly, a realty management office employee, who is seldom seen by the masses or cell-phone employee who could easily track users, or a florist delivery person. An old-style bear trap would be a deterrent, for sure.

50YearResident 4 years, 9 months ago

Don't forget due to the time of night that the attacks occured the theory was that he was following women home from bars at closing time and potential victums needed to watch who may be following them home. If there seemed to be a car in the rearview mirror from the bat to your apartment then avasive action needed to be taken.

That said, I think this guy has moved on to other places. However there is always a chance he will make a return call sometime when he may be back in the area.

soyjuanramon 4 years, 9 months ago

In August I was walking at 10 pm on Crestline, near Meadowbrook apts. I observed a young, athletic white male dressed in dark clothes walking slowly around the apartment building. He walked along the wall, very close to the patio doors and windows. There was no sidewalk or pathway he walked upon. He was simply walking in the grass along the wall. I stopped walking and watched him silently (phone in hand ready to dial LPD) for approximately 10 minutes until he noticed me watching him. I asked him who he was and he asked me who I was. I encouraged him to identify himself and he stated that he was a security guard. I asked for his name and he wouldn't share it and could not name a supervisor. He stated he worked for Mil-Spec.
Do Mil-Spec security guards walk slowly right outside apartments complexes that they "patrol?" Don't most decent police officers carry a flashlight, identification and are able to name a supervisor? He walked away quickly and then disappeared in the parking lot. I did not observe any Mil-Spec vehicle.

I believe that it is likely that this rapist does patiently observe several properties and identifies potential victims and apartments. He also must know something about how to pull these rapes off without leaving enough evidence. It could be possible that this person poses, or is employed as a security guard. Security guards do often sit or walk around their assigned patrolled property and their "patrolling" would appear to be more like stalking if they were not in a uniform.
I would also bet that he tries several doors/windows he has staked out over a period of time before "scoring" an unlocked one. I would bet it is a big game to him.

jgirl12 4 years, 8 months ago

Meadowbrook does not have MIL-SPEC. You probably should have called the police.

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