Police Compile List of Suspects in Serial Rape Case
Police have compiled a list of more than two dozen suspects fitting the profile of the Simi Valley serial rapist and are using genetic testing to narrow their search.
“We have a lot of leads and a list of suspects we’re looking into right now,” said Simi Valley Police Sgt. Andrew McCluskey, lead investigator on the case. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to narrow that list down even further to just one person we can’t eliminate.”
Police had as many as 12 investigators on the case after the latest in a series of home-invasion rapes and sexual assaults by a man believed to be stalking his victims. While the number of officers working the case full-time has been reduced to three, officials said the investigation is moving ahead satisfactorily.
“We’re certainly trying to bring this to a conclusion,” Police Chief Randy Adams said. “We’re employing every possible resource.”
At least 25 suspects--identified through tips and crime records--have voluntarily submitted blood samples, which have been sent to labs to see if any of the DNA markers match skin and semen samples collected from victims.
Although police have been able to eliminate a handful of suspects, they will have to wait at least a month for the tests to be complete.
Additionally, police are continuing to interview potential suspects and cross-check criminal records to identify any others who match a profile compiled by FBI and the state attorney general’s office after the June 1997 attack on an 18-year-old woman.
Investigators are also sifting through a number of promising leads phoned in by concerned residents, McCluskey said.
“These are usually difficult investigations,” he said. “With the kind of evidence we have, it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Patrol officers have also been briefed on the case and have added more extensive patrols to the area, stopping anyone who looks suspicious.
Police believe that one man is responsible for five sexual assaults and two rapes since June 1996.
They also believe that the man is “doing his homework,” stalking them before he attacks. All of the victims have been young--between 15 and 23--and thin with light brown hair.
What makes the rapist even more dangerous, police said, is that in each of the assaults, the victims were not alone.
Other family members or friends were asleep in adjacent rooms, which leads McCluskey to believe that a sense of danger is one of the factors motivating the rapist.
Police have been hampered in their search by the fact that none of the victims was able to provide a detailed description of the assailant.
Because all the victims were awakened late at night by a knife-wielding man, the most they have been able to recall is that their attacker was young, probably in his early 20s, and white or possibly Latino.
Immediately following the March 22 rape of a 15-year-old girl in her home near Tapo Canyon Road and Cochran Street, department officials dedicated 12 officers from the sex crimes and special weapons units to collect as much evidence as they could.
They continued to follow leads until April 20, when nine of the detectives were taken off the investigation to work other cases. They are now being used on a part-time or as-needed basis.
McCluskey said the investigation has been aided tremendously by the FBI profile, which has served as a sort of composite of information on the attacker.
According to the profile, the attacker most likely lives in the area, is single and has been unsuccessful forging relationships with women his age.
He is introverted and quiet and, if employed, has a job that does not involve much interaction with the public, the profile says.
Additionally, the attacker may live with someone upon whom he is financially dependent but does not have to account to for late-night and early morning absences, according to the profile.
Police also speculate that the attacker may have a criminal history for comparatively minor offenses such as indecent exposure, peeping, burglary and trespassing. He may also be following reports of his crimes through the media and may talk openly about them with friends and acquaintances.
McCluskey said the public’s help with providing leads has been invaluable to the investigation.
“The community has really come together and given us some good information,” he said. “Somebody out there knows this guy, and their tip might end this.”