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Rape Linked to 15 Others, Police Say

Times Staff Writer

A man suspected of 15 rapes and five attempted rapes during the last year in Burbank and the North Hollywood area broke into a Toluca Lake apartment Thursday morning and assaulted a 26-year-old woman, Los Angeles police said.

The assault fit the pattern of the other crimes. All the victims have been single women who live alone on ground-floor apartments, police said. In every case, the man entered an apartment through an unlocked door or window while the victim was asleep, police said.

Thursday’s rape was the third this month that police have attributed to the man, who has remained elusive because none of the victims has seen his face or been able to provide details that would “give us a good lead on who this guy is,” Los Angeles Police Detective Gary Barthelmess said.

Barthelmess said the rape occurred about 5:45 a.m. after the man entered the woman’s Riverside Drive apartment through an unlocked bathroom window. As in the other cases, he covered his head with a towel so his victim could not see his face during the assault, the detective said.

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As in other crimes, the man stole a small amount of cash from the victim’s purse and left through the front door, police said.

“He left very little evidence, as usual,” Barthelmess said. “We have very little on which to work. He uses a consistent and sophisticated method. He confronts the women while they’re asleep and says he means business.”

Since last July, nine rapes fitting the same description and five attempted rapes have been reported to North Hollywood Division detectives, whose territory includes surrounding communities. Rapes fitting the pattern have been reported in Toluca Lake and Studio City.

In neighboring Burbank, six similar rapes have been reported to police since November, the most recent on June 14, Burbank Police Detective Mike Gough said.

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Detectives have increased patrols in the area where the rapes have been reported and have conducted early-morning surveillance several times, but so far they have come up empty, Barthelmess said.

Most of the attacks have occurred east of Vineland Avenue between Magnolia Boulevard and the Ventura Freeway.


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