Northeast Times

Search continues for Fairmount Park rapist

Com­pos­ite sketches of rape/murder sus­pect

Ten years on, Phil­adelphia’s seri­al park rap­ist con­tin­ues to elude iden­ti­fic­a­tion and cap­ture, but po­lice re­fuse to quit their search for him.

To mark the an­niversary of the un­known pred­at­or’s first at­tack, au­thor­it­ies on Fri­day re-dis­trib­uted wanted fli­ers and com­pos­ite sketches of the rap­ist, who is also wanted for the 2003 murder of 30-year-old med­ic­al stu­dent Re­becca Park.

DNA evid­ence has linked four cases to the same per­pet­rat­or. Three of the in­cid­ents oc­curred in 2003 in Fair­mount Park in close prox­im­ity to the Schuylkill. Then the pred­at­or dis­ap­peared.

Four years later, on Aug. 11, 2007, he re­sur­faced in Pennypack Park in Holmes­burg, near the pa­vil­ion and pic­nic site at Frank­ford and Solly av­en­ues. A 29-year-old wo­man was walk­ing on a bike path along the creek shortly after 8 p.m. when a man pulled her in­to the woods, raped her and stole a small amount of money. The at­tack­er fled on foot along the bike path to­ward Welsh Road.

Capt. John Darby, com­mand­er of Phil­adelphia’s Spe­cial Vic­tims Unit, said at the time that the thug bru­tal­ized the vic­tim.

“The of­fend­er spent some time with the vic­tim. This was not an ‘at­tack and run,’ ” Darby said.

The vic­tim found her way out of the woods and with the help of a good Samar­it­an con­tac­ted po­lice. She was treated and re­leased from an area hos­pit­al.

Vic­tims in earli­er at­tacks de­scribed a sim­il­ar meth­od.

On April 30, 2003, a 21-year-old wo­man was jog­ging near Kelly Drive and Foun­tain Green Road when a man grabbed her, pulled her to the ri­verb­ank and raped her at knife­point. The vic­tim sur­vived and de­scribed her at­tack­er to po­lice.

Park was not so for­tu­nate. On Ju­ly 13, 2003, she went jog­ging and dis­ap­peared. De­tect­ives found her body four days later along a run­ning trail near the 3500 block of Con­sho­hock­en Ave., not far from her home. She had been raped and strangled. Oth­er jog­gers sup­plied po­lice with a de­scrip­tion of a sus­pi­cious man they had seen in the area.

On Oct. 25, 2003, a 37-year-old wo­man was jog­ging along West River Drive about a mile south of Falls Bridge when a knife-wield­ing man tried to drag her to the ri­verb­ank, but she fought him back and suffered de­fens­ive wounds to the neck, chest and hand, po­lice said. She, too, offered a de­scrip­tion of the pred­at­or.

The sus­pect con­sist­ently has been de­scribed as a His­pan­ic man with a Latino ac­cent, me­di­um and mus­cu­lar build, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, dark com­plex­ion, black hair, a thin mous­tache, a thin “jaw-line” beard and bushy eye­brows.

Wit­nesses or vic­tims have de­scribed him as hav­ing a “wid­ow’s peak” hair­line, and wear­ing an ear­ring in the left ear. In two cases, he fled on a metal­lic-purple 10-speed bi­cycle.

In the Pennypack Park rape, he wore match­ing light-blue bas­ket­ball-style shirt and shorts with white trim on the shirt and white ver­tic­al stripes on the sides of the shorts. He also wore a gold chain with a cru­ci­fix pendant and had scars or blem­ishes on his up­per left arm and torso.

Call the Spe­cial Vic­tims Unit to re­port in­form­a­tion about the case at 215-685-3251, or the Hom­icide Unit at 215-686-3335. ••

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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