News And Politics

Police revive 'Teardrop Rapist' investigation

April 24, 2012, 2:31 p.m.

(Los Angeles Police Department) Select composite sketches of the "Teardrop Rapist" suspect.

Police on Tuesday said a rapist responsible for dozens of sexual assaults more than a decade ago in South L.A. and Koreatown struck again late last year, and they are now reviving the hunt for the serial rapist.

The suspect is dubbed the "Teardrop Rapist" because of the teardrop-shaped tattoo or tattoos on his face.

“We believe that that is a clue in play and worthy of mention yet confusing because some victims have said right eye, some victims have said left eye. Some victims have said one teardrop, one victim said as many of three teardrops," said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese. "So we don’t want to confuse the public but at the same time we want to put information out.”

The suspect is being sought in connection with up to 28 sexual assaults that occurred since February 2006. Eleven of the attacks were linked to the suspect through DNA, others are connected by suspect descriptions, weapons used, and other motives and factors.

Police say the large gaps between attacks by the "Teardrop Rapist," could be because he might have been in custody at one time. Albanese said they didn't start swabbing arrestees until 2009 and the serial attacker may have been released before that.

"We speculated on the likelihood that he may have been in custody but released prior to swabbing in '09. It's one of the things we're looking at," said Albanese.

Police say all of the crimes occurred in the early morning hours between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m The suspect usually approached each victim, engaged them in conversation, and then produced a knife or firearm before walking them to a secluded area and sexually assaulting them.

Victims ranged in age from from 14 to 41 and most were Latinas.

The most recent attack occurred last November around 5:30 a.m. near Adams Boulevard and Normandie Avenue. A 15-year-old woman walking in the area was approached by a man who asked her for directions, showed her his gun and then forced her to walk a nearby yard where he sexually assaulted her.

Within weeks of the attack, it was linked by DNA evidence to a series of sexual assault cases that had previously been investigated by the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division.

Police describe the suspect as a Latino male who is now between 40 and 55. He has been described as having a light complexion and may have attempted to remove his teardrop tattoo. The suspect has been seen wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt and green bandana. To cover his head, he has worn a black baseball cap or dark-colored beanie.

The suspect is fluent in Spanish and English, and usually approaches victims that are walking on the sidewalk or waiting at a bus stop.

Officials are asking for the public's help identifying the man and are warning women to avoid walking alone between the hours of 5 and 8 a.m.

KPCC's Erika Aguilar contributed to this story

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