'Teardrop' rapist targeted teen girls, some going to school, LAPD says
Officials said 11 of the "teardrop" rapist's 28 known victims were teenage girls -- including some who were walking to school.
Los Angeles Police Department Det. Sharlene Johnson said the serial rapist typically strikes from 5 to 8 a.m., striking up conversation on the street.
"He quickly corrals them into a yard nearby. If anyone comes he flees," Johnson said. "He is generally calm."
On Tuesday, police announced DNA evidence indicates the attacker is prowling the streets again after an apparent seven-year break. Last November, a 15-year-old girl walking to school early one morning in Southwest L.A. was pulled into a yard by a man brandishing a gun. He sexually assaulted her. Samples of DNA linked the case to the earlier rapes.
There were 27 reported rapes or attempted assaults from 1996 to 2005.
Officials issued a blunt warning, urging women and girls to walk in pairs, especially at night and during the early morning.
"The crimes have been rape, sodomy, oral copulation, kidnapping … the M.O. is very distinct … these are women walking alone," said Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese at a news conference.
With 11 of the 28 victims being minors, Albanese said, parents need to pay particular attention to the safety of their daughters.
"As the father of a teenage daughter, I would not want her in the described area walking alone," he said.
He also warned women should not wear headphones while walking alone in the early morning.
Investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday released a panel of nine sketches of the attacker drawn over the years from victims' descriptions.
From April 1996 to June 2003, he struck more than two dozen times. But after an LAPD news conference in 2003 that sought the public's help, no attacks were reported until 2005, when he struck once more in the Florence-Firestone area patrolled by the Sheriff's Department.
For reasons police don't know, the attacks then appeared to stop.
"We've speculated why he stopped, but we don't know," Albanese said.
The attack on the girl in November is the first new case since 2005.
"What we do know is he is back," Albanese said.
-- Richard Winton