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8 Women Victims of Cut-and-Run Bandit : Shear Audacity: Hair Thief Clips Again

July 24, 1986|CARMEN VALENCIA | Times Staff Writer

The hair bandit has cut again.

Dubbed "Jack the Snipper" by police, the man has been sneaking up on Southeast area women and girls to scissor off part of their locks.

The snipper is being sought by Norwalk sheriff's detectives for eight such attacks since February, the latest occurring last week.

"He comes up from behind," said Detective Steve Davis. "It's a matter of grabbing them, cutting their hair off and leaving."

Davis said the snipper has attacked in Norwalk, Downey, Bellflower, Commerce and Maywood. Most of the women have been Latinas or Asians with dark, long hair. The latest victim, attacked last Thursday, was a Latina from Maywood.

'I Began to Scream'

"I walked by and then he passed by very close. He turned around right away. I saw the blade and scissors. I began to scream. He told me to shut up and said, 'If you call the police, I'm going to follow you,' " said the 25-year-old, who was walking to work. The woman, who had waist-length black hair, ran to a house and called police.

She said her chopped hair now falls unevenly above her shoulders.

"All my life I've had long hair," she said. "I still need to go to the salon and have it cut evenly."

Davis said there is no consistent pattern to the incidents. But the assailant has mainly focused on women who wait at bus stops in the early morning or afternoon hours. Most of the women said they remember seeing the man a few days before being attacked. Three of the victims were minors, including a 9-year-old girl who was sheared in Norwalk.

Before the latest attack, the man never said anything to his victims, Davis said.

Hair Fetish Likely

"It's hard to say what his motivation is," Davis said. "The general consensus is he has a hair fetish. He is probably getting a sexual thrill from doing this."

The women reported losing varying amounts of hair in the attacks. In some cases, their hair was snipped at the shoulders, but in other instances the women were shorn at ear-level.

"I didn't feel him cut my hair," said a 31-year-old Latina, the first victim. She was waiting at a Norwalk bus stop on her way to work. She said she felt the attacker pull her hair and she fell down when he let go.

"In a way, it's so funny. What would he want the hair for?" she said.

But she said the experience was traumatic and she remains cautious about who is around her as she goes to work.

"I'm almost afraid to let it grow out," she said.

Taking It Seriously

Although sheriff's investigators at first laughed about the hair affair, they said they take the hair stalker very seriously. They are especially concerned because he is attacking minors.

"This is a sicko. He's like a time bomb waiting to go off," Davis said.

If caught, the bandit could be charged with armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, Davis said.

The detective said the Sheriff's Department has not ruled out the possibility that somebody may actually be selling the hair.

Several wig-making firms, however, said in interviews that they would rarely, if ever, buy swatches of hair from someone off the street. Most said they import hair from Europe or South Korea.

Based on descriptions from the victims, sheriff's investigators are looking for a white male who is about 30 years old and weighs between 170 and 180 pounds. The suspect has light brown wavy hair and usually dresses in blue shirts with long pants and construction boots. Witnesses have also said the man drives a black mini-truck with orange and yellow pinstripes, Davis said.

"We have exhausted conventional ways of dealing with this," Davis said. "I hope the citizenry can help us in some way. If they see somebody strange watching females in the streets or local parks, they can call us. Or if they see somebody with four or five ponytails hanging in their garage."

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