Saturday, February 2, 2008

City searches for sexual predator

A sexual predator is on the prowl in Fayetteville and police are warning residents to be on the lookout. Three rapes over a 13 month period have been connected to the same suspect.

M.G. Johnson knows one of the rape victims, "She was a friend of my niece, and my niece was so upset, what can you do? Not much."

The three attacks happened along a two-mile stretch of Ramsey St.

The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male in his early 20s or 30s. He is between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 3 inches tall. He has close-cut dark hair or a shaven head.

Police Sgt. Chuck Dew is asking people to be on the look-out. The man is believed to stalk his victims before attacking.

"In each of these incidents, we believe the suspect uses at least a minimal amount of surveillance in preparation when selecting the victims,” Dew said.

Police were only recently able to link the three rapes to the same suspect. They decided to alert the public after a fourth victim was sexually assaulted on Jan. 26 in the same condominium where the second victim was raped. Police are still investigating to determine if it is the same suspect.

In the meantime, police are asking women to take extra precautions.

• Be aware and know your surroundings.

• Avoid places where people can easily hide.

• Use a buddy system and let people know where you are going.

• Lock your windows and doors.

• Do not use earphones while exercising and always carry a cell phone.

Last but not least, Lt. Alex Thompson says trust your instincts, "When one gets that gut feeling, those butterflies, to draw on it… and react on it based on what they see."

Each attack hurts more than just the victim, it shatters the security of women everywhere like Johnson, "this place, we all thought it was the safest place in town."

Police ask that if you notice suspicious individuals or activities, call 911.

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