Teardrop Rapist linked to up to 35 attacks may have struck again
The so-called Teardrop Rapist, responsible for as many as 35 attacks since 1996, may have struck again this month when a woman was accosted in South L.A. by a gun-wielding man who tried to sexually assault her in an alley before being spooked, police said Thursday.
The 29-year-old woman was alone about 5:30 a.m. June 15 when she was approached by a man near 25th Street and Naomi Avenue, investigators said.
After trying to talk to her, the man stuck a handgun in her face and forced her into an alley, where he attempted to sexually assault her. But the man became frightened when a vehicle pulled into the alley, and he fled on foot. The attack, according to investigators, resembles those by the Teardrop Rapist.
The serial rapist has been linked through DNA samples and other evidence to a series of attacks in Los Angeles over the last decade and a half. His last previously announced attack came in November when a 15-year-old in southwest L.A. was pulled into a yard and sexually assaulted during the early morning hours.
The Teardrop Rapist is believed to be responsible for 35 attacks beginning in 1996. Investigators said at least 11 of the attacks have been linked through DNA.
Police, who released a panel of sketches of the suspect 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 City 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 and Gage avenues.
Police said a man approached the girl and asked her 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.
The assailant was 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 but note he always targets women alone in the early mornings and engages in conversation before producing a weapon. His victims have ranged in age from 14 to 41.
Witnesses at the time described him as being 30 to 40 years old. In those earlier incidents, the suspect wore a dark, hooded sweatshirt, 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.
-- 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