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Man Suspected of 2 Rapes, Robberies Arrested in Stakeout

August 05, 1993|VICKI TORRES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ALHAMBRA — A midnight stakeout by Alhambra police ended in the arrest of a Los Angeles man suspected of raping and robbing two Alhambra women and trying to assault a third, authorities said this week.

David Earl Babb, 37, a caterer, was stopped by police early Saturday after 18 officers and detectives had hidden themselves for more than three hours in a northeast Alhambra neighborhood. Some officers were on foot, some were disguised as joggers, some waited in cars and others hid with telescopes and night scopes, Sgt. Jeff Powell said.

"It wasn't luck," Powell said of the arrest. The rapist "was fairly consistent in the time of day, day of the week, location and conduct. . . . We felt if we did not apprehend him, he would continue."

Police first became aware of the rapist on July 17 after a woman in her 40s was sexually assaulted in a parking garage in the 900 block of North Monterey Street.

The woman was returning home from work between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. and had pulled into the underground garage of her apartment complex, Powell said. A man scooted into the garage area before the security gate closed and sexually assaulted the woman at gunpoint. Afterward, he robbed her of a small amount of cash and jewelry. The attacker fled on foot when another apartment resident drove into the garage and the gate opened.

The following Saturday, police think the same man attacked another woman about the same time four blocks away in the 300 block of North Stoneman Avenue. The victim, in her late teens, had just parked her car on the street in front of her apartment complex when she was forced back into the car by a gunman who ordered her to drive a few blocks away, where he sexually assaulted her, Powell said. The man fled on foot after taking cash and jewelry.

The woman told police she had noticed a red Ford Bronco in the street a few minutes before the attack. Using that information, and the knowledge that the rapist might strike again in the same neighborhood, officers were put on stakeout.

About 1:20 a.m. Saturday, they watched as a woman drove into a security parking structure at an apartment building. Seconds later, a red Bronco pulled up and parked near the complex, and a man ran from the truck and tried to enter the garage. When the security gate closed before he could enter, the man tried the building's front entrance and then went back to his vehicle and drove off.

The man identified as Babb was stopped in the Bronco moments later and police found a gun, gloves and duct tape inside.

Babb, who police said goes by several aliases, remains in Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $900,000 bail. He faces arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Municipal Court. Although the director of the Pasadena YWCA Rape Crisis Center criticized Alhambra police for not notifying the public about the rapist, Powell said police feared they might be dealing with a serial rapist and that news of the crime might prompt the rapist to switch to another locale.

"He did exactly what we expected him to do," Powell said. "It was good police work."

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