Police warned Sylmar residents Tuesday to be on alert for a sexual assault suspect sporting distinct “earlobe gauges,” who targeted two women in the early morning hours last weekend.
Both women were approached near an apartment complex at 12960 Dronfield Avenue on Sunday morning.
“The good news is, neither woman was physically harmed in either case,'' said Lt. Paul Vernon, who heads up the detective unit of the Los Angeles Police Department's Mission Division. “But these were two bold, public encounters within the same complex and within one hour's time.”
The suspect has large gauges in both earlobes, prompting investigators to dub him the alleged “Ear Gauge Stalker.” An example of the earlobe gauges are pictured below.
In the first case, the suspect approached a woman who was pushing a baby in a stroller about 2:40 a.m. He began the encounter by making small talk, then suddenly reached under her dress and groped her, Vernon said. When she screamed, he ran way.
About an hour later, he approached another woman, who was also walking back to her apartment, and started making small talk, Vernon said.
“This time, the stalker was even bolder,” the lieutenant said. “He grabbed her, and through a combination of carrying and dragging, he moved her 60 feet to a dark, secluded area and started to remove her clothing.''
Two passersby heard the woman's screams and intervened. The suspect ran off before police were called.
Detectives did not learn of the earlier assault until Monday, Vernon said.
The victims are both Hispanic women in their 30s who live in the same apartment complex, but not in the same unit, he said.
Detectives have visited the complex to warn residents and canvass the area. They have also arranged for the women to meet with a sketch artist to come up with a composite drawing of the suspect, Vernon said.
“We've already received one tip that the man with ear gauges visits someone in the complex regularly,” Vernon said. “We'll be distributing the composite as soon as the victims are available, and we're poring over sex offender roles for the area to see if any registrants fit the suspect's description.”
The suspect was described as an African-American man in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds. He is believed to usually wear a hoodie or a baseball cap.
Anyone with information about his identity or whereabouts was asked to call Detective Luz Montero of the Mission Division's Sexual Assault Unit at (818) 838-9975.