Hunt Still At Dead End for One Miami Rapist
By Luisa Yanez, The Miami Herald
|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 occurred.
"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 Bendross-Mindingall, D-Miami.
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 following leads.
"Catching the North Miami-Dade rapist is still a high priority," Williams said.