Los Angeles police are looking for a man they’re calling the “Teardrop Attacker,” who is wanted for committing 28 sexual assaults or attempted attacks on women committed beginning in 1996.
At a noon press conference Tuesday, authorities released nine composite sketches of men described by victims in separate attacks that mostly targeted Latina victims in South Los Angeles. The most recent incident occured in November 2011, and the first occured in 1996.
"It has spanned now for 15 years," said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, chief of Los Angeles Police Department detectives.
The most recent crime occured at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 10, 2011, when a 15-year-old Latina girl was approached by a man who asked her for directions near the intersection of Adams Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, according to an LAPD press release. He showed her a gun and forced her to walk to a yard where he sexually assaulter her. DNA evidence linked that crime to previously investigated assaults, the release stated.
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At the news conference, Albanese said 11 of the 28 cases have been linked based on DNA evidence. The rest were "linked based on M.O.," he said. Victims ranged from ages 14 to 41, according to the press release.
The rapist attacks his victims between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the women are headed to school or work, Albanese said at the news conference. Typically, the attacker has been armed with gun, but in two cases he used a knife.
In 2002, the LAPD sought a man they also called the "Teardrop Attacker," or "Teardrop Rapist," who was suspected in similar crimes in the South Los Angeles area that dated back to 1999, when an original alert was put out. The suspect sketch at that time showed a Latino man with distinctive tear-drop tattoos under one eye. A similar sketch was released in 2003 for crimes in Koreatown.
In both 2002 and 2003, the "Teardrop Rapist" was described as a Hispanic man between 30 and 40 years old. He was said to have brown eyes and brown hair, and to range between 5 foot, 5 inches and 5 foot, 8 inches in height, and between 140 and 160 pounds in weight.
On Tuesday, the descriptions provided by 28 different victims created a wide-ranging description for the attacker, Albanese said. The suspect is described as a light-skinned Hispanic man, between 5 feet, 2 inches and 6 feet tall, weighing between 130 and 200 pounds.
The attacker is thought to be between 40 and 55 years old today.
Some victims described one or more teardrop under either eye. The suspect may have removed the teardrops, Albanese said.
Albanese said he recognized that releasing nine differing sketches could be confusing, but that he hoped the information would lead to help from the public.
Three of the crimes occured in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Century Station patrol area, which includes the city of Lynwood and the unincorporated areas of Florence, Firestone, Walnut Park, Willowbrook, Rosewood and Athens Park. The two agencies are working together to apprehend the suspect, Albanese said.
Tips should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anonymous tipsters should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).