Police have nabbed several men suspected of being serial rapists
who attacked women and girls in Miami-Dade in the last two years, but
one remains at large: the North Miami-Dade rapist.
By Luisa Yanez, The Miami Herald
North Miami-Dade, Fla. -- He raped a woman on Christmas Day. He
attacked a 10-year-old girl one night and tried to break into her
home again the next.
A sketch of the North Miami-Dade rapist|
His last victims were two sisters, then 7 and 8. Armed with a
small silver handgun, his face covered as usual, he crawled in
through an open window and assaulted one, then the other.
Today he's still on the loose.
In the last year police have arrested men suspected of being the
Day Care rapist, the Shenandoah rapist, the Flagami rapist and the
Bus Stop rapist. But the most menacing serial rapist, with at least
14 victims, has managed to evade capture.
It's been four months this week since the North Miami-Dade rapist
last struck, raping the young sisters on Nov. 28, 2003.
No trap set by police has been able to snare him. Not a task
force, a $30,000-plus reward, billboards, the ire of church and civic
activists or a voluntary DNA sweep of men on the street.
The sweep paid off in other ways, leading police to other wanted
men. Earlier this month, Anthony Banmah, 23, who gave a cheek swab
during the manhunt for the rapist, was linked to the May slaying of a
couple who worked at the Opa-locka-Hialeah Flea Market. In December,
the DNA dragnet also netted Christopher Myles, 36, accused of being
the Bus Stop rapist, who grabbed victims from the street.
But what of the North Miami-Dade rapist, who first began
terrorizing females in November 2002, then abruptly stopped a year
later -- or at least appeared to?
"He could have been arrested in another jurisdiction or just fled
the area or he may have stopped for the time being," said Robert
Williams, a Miami-Dade police spokesman.
Compulsive sex offenders seldom decide what they're doing is wrong
and change their ways, said A. Nicholas Groth, a clinical
psychologist and one of the authors of Men Who Rape: The
Psychology of the Offender.
"I bet something stopped him; he didn't stop," said Groth,
in a phone interview from Orlando. "He may have relocated and is
committing the crimes elsewhere -- or he got hit by a truck -- but
serial rapists seldom stop on their own."
So far, all his victims have been black females: four in their 20s
or 30s, six teenagers and four girls age 10 or younger. He has been
directly linked to six rapes through his DNA and to the others
through his method of attack.
Since the rapist usually attacks by breaking into victims' homes
early in the morning, Groth said he may have started out as a
burglar, then "saw the opportunity to rape and took it."
Police have considered that possibility. They've looked at others
too, such as whether the rapist may have worked or had a connection
to a local elementary, since two of his victims attended the same
school. But that, like other hunches and more than 4,000 leads, led
to dead ends.
Earlier this year, outraged by the attacks, neighbors and clergy
from Liberty City to Carol City took to the streets. They handed out
fliers with a police sketch of the rapist at busy intersections. They
posted them in storefront windows from Northwest 62nd and 199th
streets to North Miami Avenue and 37th Avenue, where the attacks
"For a while, there was a lot of activity," said Rev. Richard
Bennett, executive director of the African-American Council of
Christian Clergy, who spread the words among scores of congregations
as he pushed for the capture of the rapist.
Miami-Dade Commissioners Barbara Carey-Shuler, Dorrin Rolle, Jimmy
Morales and the retiring Betty Ferguson helped fatten the reward pot
in hopes of flushing him out. So did state Rep. Dorothy
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle hosted
a press conference urging the public to help. Soon, Clear Channel
Outdoor donated billboard space, same as it did during the hunt for
the Shenandoah rapist.
"Now, there doesn't seem to be much going on," said Bennett, who
has asked Miami-Dade police to brief him on the search for the rapist.
Bennett fears women will grow complacent and think the danger has
passed, only to have the attacks suddenly begin again.
"Our community still needs to know it's not safe out there until
they catch him," Bennett said.
Miami-Dade police say they are still canvassing neighborhoods and
"Catching the North Miami-Dade rapist is still a high priority,"