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Investigators need public’s help to catch serial rapist

By Ashlea Sigman

(Editor’s note: This account of a serial rapist operating throughout rural counties located east of San Antonio is being published as a public service to mature women who live alone in Bandera County. It appeared in www.kbtx.com on Nov. 3. The Courier has fielded several telephone calls about the rape cases. Everyone is urged to take appropriate safety precautions at all times.)

DNA has linked a serial rapist to attacks in the cities of Marquez and Yoakum and also in Bell County, and authorities believe the same man is responsible for all nine instances. The problem is, they don’t know who he is.

“Many of these cases have been linked by physical evidence, including DNA,” said Texas Ranger Chief Tony Leal. “All of the victims have been elderly women ranging in age from 65 to 91 who live alone. The rapist has been described as a thin, young, dark-skinned man between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall. Each of these victims is someone’s mother, grandmother or neighbor, and we need the public’s help in identifying the suspect responsible for these crimes.”

Authorities are asking anyone who may know someone who fits the description of the rapist to call local law enforcement agencies of the Texas Department of Public Safety Fusion Center at 866-786-5972.

“Investigators believe the offender has a sexual preference for elderly females, and therefore may not be in a romantic relationship with a woman his own age,” Texas Rangers said in a press release. “The suspect has demonstrated his familiarity with each of these communities and apparently has the freedom, either in personal life or at work, to move about during the late evening and pre-dawn early morning hours.”

Investigators from sheriff's departments in Leon County, Falls County and Bell County, as well as Yoakum Police gathered at the Leon County Courthouse in November 2009 for a community meeting about the serial rapist. The man has targeted three women in Leon County.

Around 150 people crowded into the courthouse. Investigators from each department described local attacks. Yoakum Police said a 66-year-old woman was attacked on Jan. 23, 2009. Yoakum is a city of around 7,500 people and sits on the DeWitt and Lavaca County line. Police said the victim lived in DeWitt County, and was robbed of her $12,000 life savings. On Feb. 27, another Yoakum woman was attacked. Investigators said the suspect attempted to sexually assault the 79-year-old Lavaca County resident, but left.

On July 20, Leon County Investigators said an elderly Marquez woman was attacked.

Bell County Sheriff's Deputies said the attacker then moved to their county, where he attacked a woman on August 14. They said the woman was sexually assaulted and robbed.

Investigators from Leon County said Sept. 5 the man struck again, attacking an older woman in Marquez. Deputies said some money was also taken.

Sheriff's deputies from Bell County could not provide an exact date, but said at the beginning of September, a 90-year-old woman from the town of Seaton was the next victim.

Days later, on Sept. 12, deputies in Leon County responded to suspicious activity in Marqez, where burglar bars had been removed from a woman’s window.

On Oct. 12, Falls County Investigators received a 9-1-1 call from an elderly resident in Marlin, who said she had been raped. Falls County Sheriff Ben Kirk said the woman’s home had been broken into in August, and $400 was stolen from her purse. Kirk said he believed the same person committed both crimes.

The latest attack was Oct. 24, in Centerville, where an 88-year-old woman was able to scare her attacker off with a gun. Leon County Sheriff Jerry Wakefield said tracking dogs with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice were used in the neighborhood, but could not find anything.

In every case, investigators said the man broke into each home in the weeks prior to the attack, and often cut the phone line. Authorities said the man disabled the phone line again on the night of the attacks, which were all between the hours of 2 am and 5 am.

When pressed for more information during the meeting, investigators revealed the man entered through a window each time, and in some cases removed a pane or in one case, removed the entire window. Authorities said they believe the man wears surgical gloves during the attacks.

Leon County Inves­tigators said none of the victims have been able to provide a conclusive description of the man - only that he speaks English without an accent.

None of the departments had any leads and asked the public for help. Leon County Sheriff Jerry Wakefield asked everyone at the meeting to walk around their homes and examine the windows to see if there were signs any screens had been pried off. He also encouraged women to keep cell phones by their beds or to keep a key chain with a car alarm on a nightstand, so the women could set it off.