Police: Suspicious man spotted again in same block that lewd act was reported days ago; KU issues crime alert

Lawrence police say a man peeking into windows early Thursday morning in the 1100 block of Louisiana Street looked similar to the man who was allegedly seen masturbating in the same block on Tuesday, according to witness reports.

About 1:50 a.m. Thursday, officers were sent to investigate a suspicious person in the 1100 block of Louisiana Street, according to a media email from Officer Derrick Smith. A man was reportedly looking into apartment windows and, when questioned by a witness, said he was “looking for a friend,” then fled the area, Smith said.

Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the man, Smith said.

The suspect’s description is similar to that of a man seen masturbating outside an apartment in the same block about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday.

The suspect in the Thursday morning incident was described as a white male in his 30s, heavier set “with a scruffy appearance,” Smith said.

On Tuesday morning, the woman who saw the man masturbating while watching her roommate’s bedroom window described that man as a stocky white male, about 30 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches or 5 feet 9 inches tall with a light scruffy beard and either short hair or a bald head. The witness told police he was wearing black athletic shorts, a brown flat-bill style hat and a greenish shirt.

In that incident, officers also searched the area but didn’t find a suspect.

Smith said the investigations are ongoing.

The 1100 block of Louisiana Street is near the northeast edge of the University of Kansas campus, close to GSP and Corbin residence halls, but not on campus proper.

KU police issued a crime alert Thursday afternoon about the reported incidents. Police said there was no immediate threat to campus but reminded students to be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activity.

The suspect descriptions from this week’s incidents on Louisiana Street share some characteristics with that of the suspected serial rapist believed to have attacked 14 KU and Kansas State University students — in the early-morning hours, in their off-campus homes in Lawrence and Manhattan — since 2000.

However, Lawrence police say the suspect description could apply to a large swath of the population.

“There is no indication, and we do not believe that these incidents have any relationship to the college rapist,” Lawrence police Officer Drew Fennelly said, in an email.

“The actions of the suspect or suspects on Louisiana Street are certainly concerning, and we are working to identify the responsible person(s).”

Fennelly said police encourage residents to take steps to make sure their homes are secure. That includes keeping doors and windows locked, with drapes and curtains closed.

“We would also ask people to be alert of their surroundings, and immediately report any suspicious activity to the police department by dialing 911,” Fennelly said.

Anyone with information on this week’s incidents can call Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at 832-TIPS.

Lawrence and Riley County police recently announced a plea for information from the public to help solve the case of the suspected serial rapist that has terrorized both college towns, with the most recent attack thought to have been committed by the same man reported in 2015 in Manhattan.

Law enforcement authorities have posted more information about the suspected college rapist case online at kansascollegerapist.com.

The rape suspect has been described as a white male, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, heavy set with a “prominent stomach.” Authorities believe he is at least 35 years old now.