Authorities in Kansas say they’ve linked a 2015 attempted sexual assault to a serial rapist who terrorized the college towns of Manhattan and Lawrence nearly a decade ago.
“A lengthy investigation into the incident has led us to conclude there is a high probability that the assailant is the same assailant from the previous cases,” Brad Schoen, director of the Riley County Police Department, said Thursday at a news conference.
If authorities are correct, the suspect, who is believed to be responsible for 13 sexual assaults between 2000 and 2008, did not stop victimizing women.
“If anyone feels they had an encounter with an individual matching this description, please know that we want to hear from you, and we want to provide help for you,” reads a joint statement by the Riley County Police Department and the Lawrence Police Department. “Your information, even if it is several years old, may help bring justice to all the victims.”
According to police, all the sexual assaults share significant similarities.
The rapist is believed to stalk his victims prior to the attack. He targets female students who live off-campus in homes or apartments and breaks in at night while they are asleep. In some instances, no sign of forced entry was found, suggesting the rapist gained entry through an unlocked door or window.
Police say the suspect is usually armed and wears something over his face to disguise his identity. Descriptions of the rapist’s height and weight have varied in the victims’ reports.
In 2008, he was described as a white male of medium height in his mid-20s, with various descriptions of build and estimations of weight. The 2015 victim described him as approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall and heavier set, police said.
Authorities said they believe the assailant was at least 33 years old at the time of the 2015 incident.
Schoen said that law enforcement agencies are working diligently not only to identify the rapist but also to educate the public. To that end, they’ve set up a website with a timeline of events and information about the offender.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers at 785-539-7777 or toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.