--A rapist believed to be responsible for attacks on four women in the west San Fernando Valley since March struck again Tuesday night, raping one woman in front of her 8-year-old son and robbing another woman, police said.
A 30-year-old woman and her son had just left a church service and gotten into her car in a Topanga Canyon Boulevard parking lot when an armed man climbed into the back seat.
The gunman ordered the woman to drive to a nearby parking lot at 6912 Owensmouth Ave. and stop behind a building. The man raped the woman with the boy in the car, robbed her, then ran away.
Moments earlier, about 8:15 p.m., police said, the same man accosted a 53-year-old woman outside an office building at 22030 Sherman Way. The woman was returning to her office to retrieve an item she had left behind when the gunman stepped out of the bushes, demanded money and forced her into the building.
The woman told the man that her money was in her car and the man followed her to the vehicle, where he took her money and fled to the Topanga Canyon Boulevard parking lot.
Police said Wednesday that the cases may be connected to similar attacks that began March 29 in the West Valley when a woman was robbed and sexually assaulted in a Woodland Hills parking garage in the 20800 block of Ventura Boulevard.
A second West Valley attack occurred May 27 at 9 p.m. when a woman was sexually assaulted in a parking lot at Canoga Avenue and Vanowen Street.
Two women, ages 21 and 22, were attacked June 6 at 11:30 p.m. at Kester Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard in Van Nuys. The assailant forced the women into their car and made them drive to a secluded area, where he sexually assaulted them, police said. He then forced them to drive him back to where he had picked them up.
In all cases, the suspect was described as 5-foot-6, thin build, about 25 years old, wearing a cloth, knit cap or ski mask. He is Latino, African American or multiracial.
The suspect sexually assaulted the victims in their vehicles and robbed them of wallets, credit cards, cash, jewelry and personal possessions.
All the victims were approached while in their cars parked in business or residential lots.
Police are asking witnesses or anyone victimized under similar circumstances to come forward with information.
"We have to get this guy off the street before he strikes again," Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Jason Lee said. "He's obviously armed and very dangerous."
Councilwoman Laura Chick, who represents the west San Fernando Valley, said Wednesday that she will ask the City Council to offer a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the rapist.
"He uses violence, threats and intimidation to commit these rapes," she said. "I fear no woman is safe from this predator."