NORWALK — Detectives are hunting for a man who has been linked to three recent rapes, including an attack on a 10-year-old girl, and as many as 10 break-ins in a four-square-block area of the city.
The string of crimes began on July 3 with a break-in in which a 25-year-old woman was raped, said Sgt. Jo Anne Ablott, who is heading the Sheriff's Department investigation. The victim lived in the 14600 block of Dartmoor Avenue in the southeast part of the city.
Ablott declined to release details of evidence that led investigators to link the crimes, but she said the suspect apparently watched the victims' houses for days before the attacks to determine when their husbands went to work or if they lived alone.
The victims were treated at local hospitals and released. Nothing was stolen in any of the incidents, she said.
"These (attacks) are very precise, controlled," Ablott said.
Detectives suspect the attacker lives in the neighborhood, or is a relative or friend of a resident. "He knows the neighborhood very well," Ablott said.
Residents in the neighborhood of modest homes said they have been leaving on their porch and patio lights all night and making sure doors and windows are locked at night.
"It's getting us so wound up . . . " said Becca Ehrenkranz, 26, who lives with her family on Seaforth Avenue, where most of the incidents have occurred.
Detectives held a neighborhood meeting last month to warn residents and solicit information. Ablott said she receives about a dozen tips a day, but there have been no arrests.
Ablott said sheriff's deputies have been circulating through the neighborhood and offering tips on home security. Officials and residents also are organizing a Neighborhood Watch group in the area.
"We ask them to be double careful," Ablott said. She said that each of the victims had not taken adequate security measures.
About 15 detectives and deputies are working on the case, she said. "We have used dogs. We've used helicopters, undercover officers," she added.
Investigators have linked the following incidents:
* A man entered a house on the 14600 block of Dartmoor Avenue through an unlocked front door shortly after 5 a.m. on July 3. He wore panty hose over his head and threatened his 25-year-old victim with a pistol before he raped her. Her husband had left for work.
* On Sept. 2 at 5 a.m., a man climbed through an unlocked front window into a house on the 14500 block of Seaforth Avenue. He raped a 27-year-old woman, who was alone. He wore a stocking mask and carried a pistol.
* An armed man, wearing a black bandanna over his face, entered an area home through an unlocked bedroom window at 4:45 a.m. on Oct. 8 and raped a 10-year-old girl. The victim's father heard her crying and confronted the suspect, who threatened the father with a gun and escaped out the window.
* A 45-year-old woman fought off a would-be attacker, who had reached through a broken window to unlock the door of a house on the 14600 block of Seaforth Avenue. The break-in occurred at 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 11. The burglar, who was wearing a ski mask. The victim was alone.
* On Oct. 30 and Dec. 17, a man was seen prowling around two houses on the 14800 block of Seaforth Avenue. In one case, the suspect fled after a woman saw a man looking through her window and screamed. In the other incident, the suspect eluded a neighborhood man who chased him.
Investigators suspect another six area break-ins may have been committed by the same man, although no solid link has been made, Ablott said.
Two people who saw the Oct. 30 prowler provided a description for a composite drawing. They described the suspect as a white man with blond hair, about 5 feet, 9 inches and about 165 pounds. The rape victims did not see their attacker's face, but the general description matched those given by the witnesses of the prowler, Ablott said.
Ablott requests that anyone with information about the crimes call her at 863-8711, Ext. 347.