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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Simi Valley

Reward Increased in Serial Rape Case

March 22, 2000|MILO PEINEMANN

Less than a week after a suspected serial rapist assaulted two women in a single night, city officials have increased a reward fund to catch the assailant.

At the suggestion of Councilman Glen Becerra, the City Council voted to extend a cap on the reward fund from $15,200 to $25,000.

"If we can raise the public's awareness, maybe we'll get a break," Becerra said at the council's Monday night meeting.

The council first placed a cap on the reward fund in August, just 10 days after creating it, partly out of concern that someone with vital information might wait while the amount of money offered continued to increase.

A surge of donations from individuals, Centex Homes and the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce brought in $9,200 in addition to $5,000 contributed by the city. Ventura County Crime Stoppers also has contributed $1,000.

But an attempted sexual assault on March 15 and a rape early the next morning prompted the council to reconsider the reward.

A 23-year-old woman fought off an attacker in her home about 11 p.m. last Wednesday. A second attack occurred about 5:30 a.m. Thursday when an assailant of a similar description forced a 22-year-old woman out of her home and took her to an undisclosed location, where he sexually assaulted her.

The victims said their attacker was a white male between 17 and 25 years old, between 5-feet-5 and 5-feet-8 with a medium build. The assailant in each incident last week wore a ski mask, said police, who have not released any sketches of a suspect.

Police say they suspect the assailant is the same man who has committed nine other sexual assaults and rapes in the area dating back to June 1996. Becerra hopes hiking the reward will encourage residents to keep their eyes open and be more careful.

After the most recent attacks, several residents have contacted the city asking to contribute to the fund.

"The $15,000 didn't do it," Mayor Bill Davis said. "Now we'll try the $25,000."

Police have followed up on tips received since the reward fund was created.

"All we can do is request the community to provide any information they might have about the crimes," said Simi Valley Police Capt. Dick Wright.

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