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'Teardrop' rapist wanted in 35 attacks since '96 sought

Teardrop rapist

L.A. police detectives say the "teardrop" rapist -- believed responsible for 35 attacks since 1996 -- struck again earlier this month.

The latest attack was on a 29-year-old woman walking to work alone about 5:30 a.m. June 15 when she was approached by the suspect on Naomi Avenue near 25th Street, said LAPD Det. Jesse Alvarado.

After trying to talk to her, the man dressed in a hoodie stuck a handgun in her face and forced her into an alley, where he attempted to sexually assault her, Alvarado said. But the man became frightened when a vehicle pulled into the alley, and he fled on foot.

“The early morning, a woman alone and everything else suggests this is the man known as the 'teardrop' rapist,” said Alvarado, who added that previous victims described a teardrop or mark near the suspect’s eyes. “He is an opportunist. Many of his attacks are attempts because he flees the minute there is a chance he’ll get caught. That is what has made him so hard to catch.”

The serial rapist has been linked to 35 attacks in Los Angeles dating back to February 1996, Alvarado said. The LAPD recently increased the number of attacks linked to the rapist after reexamining older cases and identifying eight robberies they believed were committed by him.

The second-latest attack came in November, when a 15-year-old girl in southwest L.A. was pulled into a yard and sexually assaulted during the early morning hours. Investigators say 11 of the 35 attacks have been linked to the suspect through DNA. Alvarado said many of the incidents were attempted assaults.

His victims ranged in age from 14 to 41, and 33 were Latina, Alvarado said. The assailant is described as a Latino with brown eyes and brown hair, standing 5-feet-2 to 5-feet-6 and weighing 130 to 170 pounds.

However, investigators acknowledge differing descriptions because of a variety of caps and bandannas worn by the suspect. He typically carries a gun as he targets early morning walkers, but he has been known to wield a knife, Alvarado said.

“He flees on foot but may get there by bus or car,” he added.

As for the teardrop, scar or mole on his face, the two latest victims did not see it, Alvarado said; but in those cases he kept his face covered. A $50,000 reward is being offered in the case. Detectives ask anyone with information to email rhd-sas@lapd.lacity.org or call 877-LAPD-24-7.

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--Richard Winton

Images: At left, sketches of the "teardrop" rapist over the years. Credit: LAPD. At right, a map of attacks. Credit: Richard Winton / Los Angeles Times

 
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