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Police: Women should walk in pairs until 'teardrop rapist' is caught

April 24, 2012 | 12:46 pm

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Los Angeles police are cautioning women to walk in pairs while authorities hunt a serial sexual assailant known as the "teardrop rapist."

The man has been linked through DNA samples to a series of attacks in Los Angeles over the last decade and a half, the latest coming in November when a 15-year-old in Southwest L.A. was pulled into a yard and sexually assaulted as she walked during the early morning hours, police said Tuesday during a midday news conference.

The teardrop rapist is believed to be responsible for 28 attacks, beginning in April  1996 and stretching through the November attack. Police on Tuesday said 11 of the attacks have been linked through DNA.

Police, who released a panel of sketches of the suspect that have been drawn over the years, noted that there are unexplained gaps in the attacks.

After a news conference in 2003 seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect, the assailant did not strike again for three years, until an attack in the Century area.

Another six years passed until the Nov. 10 attack in Southwest L.A.

When police asked for the public’s assistance in 2003, they were investigating an attack on a 15-year-old girl who was walking in the area of Hoover Avenue and Gage Avenue.

Police said a man approached the girl, asking for directions. When she stopped to help, he pulled out a gun and steered her to an alley, where he tried to sexually assault her before running away.

 Between February 1999 and January 2003, there were 20 similar incidents that have been to be the work of the same suspect.

At the time of the earlier attacks, the assailant was described as a male Latino with brown eyes and brown hair, standing 5-foot-5 to 5-foot-9 and weighing about 150 pounds.

Witnesses at the time described him as being 30 to 40 years old. In those earlier incidents, the suspect wore a dark hooded sweat shirt, a green bandanna and black baseball cap or dark colored beanie to cover his head.

He is believed to have one or more teardrop-shaped tattoos below one of his eyes.

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-- Richard Winton

Image: Sketches of the "teardrop rapist" over the years. Credit: LAPD

Photo: Map of attacks. Credit: Richard Winton / Los Angeles Times

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