Four attacks in county appear unrelated to Miami cases
BY Susannah A. Nesmith, The Miami Herald
Miami-Dade police are investigating four rapes and a home invasion
between March 31 and Wednesday that they believe may have been
committed by the same man.
Authorities say there is no reason to believe those cases are related
to a serial rapist on the loose in the city of Miami. The
descriptions of the two attackers are completely different, as are
the circumstances of the attacks.
Miami-Dade investigators declined to say they were looking for
another serial rapist but said the five cases are similar enough to
suspect that one predator may be attacking women and girls in
northwest and north-central Miami-Dade County.
''If we had something concrete tying all of them together, we would
say that,'' said police spokesman Joey Giordano. ``We're
acknowledging the similarities, but we're not limiting ourselves to
focusing on one person.''
The victims range from a 10-year-old girl raped on May 14 to a
37-year-old woman raped early Wednesday. The attacks have occurred in
the general vicinity of the Carol City, Norland and West Little River
The rapist is described as a slim black man who speaks unaccented
English. The attacker used a gun to threaten all of his victims.
All four rapes occurred between 2 and 5 a.m. Twice, the rapist got in
through an unlocked window; it was unclear how he got in the other
In the home invasion, which occurred at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the man was
hiding among backyard bushes and was able to force a girl into her
home but was scared off by others in the home.
In the first three rape cases and the home invasion, the man
concealed his face. But in Wednesday's rape, the victim saw the
rapist and was able to provide police with information they used to
create a sketch.
County police declined to discuss whether they have DNA evidence from
any of the cases.
DNA samples, however, have played a key role in the investigation of
seven rapes since September 2002 in southwest Miami. The rapist has
been linked by DNA to six of the seven attacks, all of which occurred
within a two-mile radius in Little Havana, Shenandoah and surrounding
In those cases, the rapist was Hispanic and spoke to his victims only
in Spanish. He did not use a gun, and he entered the homes of his
victims in a variety of ways -- from breaking in to asking for a
glass of water. The rapes all occurred during the day, most of them
in the afternoon.
Both the city and county attacks share one similarity. They were
crimes of opportunity, police say. In the Miami-Dade cases, a window
or door was apparently left open. In the Miami cases, the victims --
ranging from an 11-year-old girl to a 79-year-old woman -- were home
Gregg McCrary, a retired FBI agent who specializes in criminal
behavior, said stranger-rape cases are often some of the most
difficult for police to solve.
DIFFICULT TO SOLVE
''In most rapes, even most violent-crime cases, the victim and
offender know each other,'' he said. ``But in cases like this, where
it's a stranger-based predator crime, it becomes much more difficult
to solve it.''
He said the one advantage police have is outrage from the community,
which often turns into many leads for investigators.
Miami investigators have received more than 150 calls from residents
offering leads. In the hope of attracting more tips, authorities have
doubled the reward offered for information about the rapist to
$20,000. The extra money came from the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement, which is assisting Miami with the investigation.
In addition, the federal Department of Homeland Security issued a
statement Wednesday promising not to seek any information about
illegal immigrants who cooperate with police in the hunt for the
Miami police suspect that their man is from Central America and may
have arrived here illegally, since there is no record of his
fingerprints in an immigration database.
''Anyone who comes forth with information will be afforded strict
confidentiality and should not be concerned with their immigration
status,'' Jesus Torres, interim special agent in charge of the Miami
Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations office, said in a
Miami-Dade police are also asking for residents' help.
In the neighborhood where Wednesday's attack occurred around
Northwest 183rd Street and Seventh Avenue, residents said they
weren't aware of a rapist prowling the area.
''I generally don't come out hardly at all . . . and I hadn't heard
about this, but I'll lock my doors and windows now,'' Patricia
Anyone with information for Miami or Miami-Dade police should call
Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).