Dallas-area police have DNA of rapist targeting sorority alumnae

Delts
Police announced this week that they have a DNA profile of a man suspected of attacking four alumnae of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in the Dallas area during the last year.

The assaults occurred on Nov. 11, 2010, and April 2 in Plano, on Sept. 15 in Coppell and on Oct. 14 in Shady Shores -- all Dallas suburbs. Police first said they had a "person of interest" in the case, based on surveillance video taken in June; now they say the heavyset man in the video has indeed been linked to the assaults.

The victims have all been alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta, one of the "Divine Nine" historically black Greek groups.

DNA evidence from the last three assaults have linked the attacks, all on women in their mid-50s to mid-60s. But comparison of that evidence to a national DNA database of known offenders has failed to identify a specific suspect, Plano police officer David Tilley told The Times. Police were unable to recover DNA from the first assault, an attempted rape, Tilley said.

FBI agents are now assisting with the investigation, Tilley said.

New footage shows the suspect using a pay phone at convenience store in Mesquite, about 14 miles east of Dallas, to call the victim in the second attack four days afterward, Tilley said.

“He was calling to basically check and make sure that she was OK,” Tilley said, adding that the suspect sounded calm, not threatening.

Victims identified the man from the video as the suspect in the assaults, Tilley said.

It was not clear why the suspect was in Mesquite. Tilley said the suspect did not enter the store, which he declined to identify, citing the ongoing investigation.

Authorities describe the suspect as a black man in his late 30s to mid-40s, between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet tall, weighing 250 to 300 pounds, balding, possibly with a thin, well-trimmed beard.

In each of the four cases, the suspect attacked when the victim was home alone, and indicated that he had personal information about her, Tilley said.

Although the victims are not all members of the same Delta chapter, did not attend the same university and do not all know each other, investigators believe their common link is the sorority, Tilley said.

“This now beyond coincidence,” he said. Many Delta alumnae are scared they may be attacked next, he said, adding: “And we are too.”

“There’s a high chance that this guy is going to reoffend. We just don’t know when,” Tilley said.

In the wake of the attacks, the sorority's national president last month posted a statement on the group's website urging members to hide their Delta paraphernalia and to be careful about what they post on social media websites.

Plano police met with Delta alumnae after the second attack, and detectives from Plano, Coppell and Corinth met with dozens of sorority members in October after the most recent assaults. The Plano Police Crime Prevention Unit recently held a personal safety class for about 70 Delta alumnae, family and friends.

Tilley said police are relying on the public at this point to help identify the suspect, who likely will not appear to be capable of such attacks.

“If they know someone who looks like him but his personality doesn’t fit, that could be him,” Tilley said, adding the suspect fits an FBI profile of “somebody you would least expect could commit this offense.”

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston

Photo: A video-grab image shows a man who police now say is a suspect in four sexual assaults against Delta Sigma Theta alumnae in the Dallas area. Credit: Plano Police Department / AFP/Getty Images.

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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