Northeast Times

Police renew call for help in finding rapist

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He said his name was “Rob” and he seemed re­l­at­ively harm­less un­til he got the wo­men in­to the woods. Then he be­came a mon­ster. He beat them and as­saul­ted them sexu­ally.

Now Phil­adelphia po­lice, armed with new in­form­a­tion about the uniden­ti­fied Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue rap­ist, are again ask­ing for the pub­lic’s help in find­ing him.

On May 15, a third vic­tim re­por­ted that she, too, had been at­tacked in the woods near Cresco Av­en­ue and Rhawn Street, said Capt. John Darby of the po­lice de­part­ment’s spe­cial vic­tims unit. That in­cid­ent oc­curred in Au­gust 2010. The 27-year-old vic­tim wasn’t sure of the ex­act date.

But just like two pre­vi­ously re­por­ted at­tacks in­volving oth­er wo­men, her en­counter began when she was stand­ing on the 6900 block of Tor­res­dale Ave. in Ta­cony and a man in a white pickup truck offered her a ride. It was about 8 p.m. The wo­man got in­to the truck.

Darby de­clined to dis­cuss why she ac­cep­ted the ride or where she was hop­ing to go.

The seem­ingly mild-mannered man drove her to the 8000 block of Cresco Ave., where they both ex­ited the truck. That’s when the man’s evil side emerged.

He dragged her in­to a se­cluded area of the park, beat her up and raped her. The vic­tim nev­er saw it com­ing.

“None of (the vic­tims) felt threatened by him,” said De­tect­ive Jim Owens, the lead in­vest­ig­at­or.

The at­tack­er used his bare hands and brute force.

“The guy is bru­tal,” Owens said.

“In all of these cases, the vic­tims suffered some ser­i­ous in­jur­ies, fa­cial in­jur­ies,” Darby said.

Des­pite the level of vi­ol­ence, there is no in­dic­a­tion that the sus­pect forced any of the wo­men to enter his vehicle.

The Au­gust 2010 in­cid­ent oc­curred about a month after a man fit­ting the same de­scrip­tion used the same meth­od to tar­get an­oth­er vic­tim.

On Ju­ly 16, 2010, at about 2:30 a.m., a 26-year-old wo­man was stand­ing along the same stretch of Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue when a man drove up to her and offered her a ride in his white pickup truck. She ac­cep­ted.

They ended up on the 8000 block of Cresco Ave., where the man dragged the wo­man in­to the woods and beat her. She res­isted, however, and he fled, leav­ing her with sim­il­ar fa­cial in­jur­ies.

“He was sty­mied by the level of fight­ing by the vic­tim. That’s what en­abled her to get away,” Darby said.

A third at­tack oc­curred on Aug. 3, 2011, more than a year after the first in­cid­ent, and in­volved a 24-year-old wo­man. She was at Tor­res­dale and Long­shore av­en­ues at about 2:30 a.m. when she ac­cep­ted a ride from a strange man. The beat­ing and rape oc­curred near the 8100 block of Cresco.

In at least one case, the rap­ist threatened to harm the wo­man fur­ther if she called for help as he fled the woods.

“He just left them down there in the dark,” Owens said.

Po­lice re­leased a de­scrip­tion and com­pos­ite sketch of the sus­pect last Au­gust. At the time, po­lice were aware only of two at­tacks.

Darby did not dis­close why the Au­gust 2010 vic­tim de­cided to come for­ward last month, nearly 22 months after the fact. But in­vest­ig­at­ors be­lieve her ac­count, cit­ing its sim­il­ar­ity to the oth­er at­tacks.

“We now have a third vic­tim that has giv­en us in­form­a­tion that cor­rob­or­ates the oth­er two,” Darby said.

Po­lice have DNA evid­ence but have yet to match it with a known DNA sample.

The sus­pect has iden­ti­fied him­self to vic­tims as “Rob” or “Bob” and has been de­scribed as white, 25 to 35 years old, 5 feet 9 inches or 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a me­di­um-size or mus­cu­lar build. He has a fair com­plex­ion.

The Au­gust 2010 vic­tim re­por­ted that the sus­pect had light brown, closely cropped hair, along with pier­cings of the brow, right ear and tongue. He wore an “ex­pens­ive hoop” in his right ear, the wo­man said.

The Au­gust 2011 vic­tim de­scribed the sus­pect’s hair as longer, like the way it ap­pears in the com­pos­ite sketch, Darby said.

The wo­men de­scribed the pickup truck as a new­er mod­el. It’s white with lad­der racks and ex­ter­i­or tool­boxes. The truck has been seen with two lad­ders loaded to it. One vic­tim said she saw a clip­board with work or­ders on the con­sole.

“He’s pos­sibly a work­ing guy, a con­tract­or in the area,” Darby said.

The Au­gust 2010 vic­tim said she saw the sus­pect again sev­er­al weeks after he at­tacked her. This time, he was driv­ing a dark blue minivan. It was a new­er “town and coun­try style” mod­el with a child safety seat in the rear and an Eagles stick­er in the back win­dow.

The vic­tim “wanted to go after him and he took off im­me­di­ately,” Darby said.

Po­lice hope in­tric­ate de­scrip­tions of the sus­pect will make him eas­ily re­cog­niz­able to ac­quaint­ances and the pub­lic.

“If you look at the total pic­ture, any­body who does know him or has had con­tact with him, we’re ask­ing that they call us,” Darby said.

Call the spe­cial vic­tims unit at 215-685-3251 to re­port in­form­a­tion about the case. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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