LAPD's 19-year hunt for serial rapist filled with frustration

LAPD's 19-year hunt for serial rapist filled with frustration
Composite sketches of a serial rape suspect are shown at LAPD headquarters in 2012. He is suspected of attacks going back 19 years. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

For almost 19 years, one of the city's most notorious serial rapists has eluded the Los Angeles Police Department.

The assailant, sometimes described as having a teardrop tattoo below one eye, targeted girls and women walking alone in the early morning hours over a wide swath of the city, from East Hollywood down into South Los Angeles.


A twisting trail

The first known attack occurred in April 1996. From then to June 2003, he struck more than two dozen times, police said.

Victims recounted similar stories: The assailant would force them into a secluded area at the point of a gun or knife before raping or sexually assaulting them.

Then in 2003, the attacks suddenly stopped, and detectives were never sure why.

Attacks resume

But in 2005, another attack tied to the suspect occurred, this time in the Florence-Firestone area.

The attacks stopped until 2011, when a 15-year-old girl walking to school in Southwest L.A. was pulled into a yard by a man brandishing a gun. He sexually assaulted her. Samples of DNA linked the case to the earlier teardrop assaults.

The last known incident was in 2012 on Naomi Avenue near 25th Street in South Los Angeles. Police said the assailant forced himself on a woman but was scared off by an approaching vehicle.

At a news conference that year, police tried to bring attention to the case. They warned women about walking alone at night and showed off composite drawings made with the help of victims over the years.

A Facebook plea

The "teardrop rapist" case was back in the news this week, but not in the way police wanted.

LAPD detectives said on a Facebook page created for the investigation that "although it has been almost two years since the last assault, the attacker is still out there."

"We have no fresh leads," the post read, "and are still looking for the community's help to identify the suspect."

Frustrated detectives


"We haven't seen any activity out of the suspect in this case for a while," Capt. William Hayes said in an interview. "Their seems to be a lull in his activity. I am not sure what is the cause of this hiatus but we have seen breaks on his activity before. We are not picking up any activity related to this series outside our area either so I can only guess as to what is going on with him. As you can imagine this is extremely frustrating for us."

The attacker is described as a Latino, about 40 to 55 years old and weighing 130 to 170 pounds. He is 5 feet, 2 inches to 5 feet, 6 inches tall with brown hair, brown eyes and a light complexion. He sometimes wears a bandanna, beanie or baseball hat.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the LAPD's 24-hour number, (877) 527-3247, or email