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Teardrop Rapist suspected in recent South L.A. attack

Police say an attempted sexual assault in South L.A. this month was the work of the Teardrop Rapist, who has struck as many as 35 times since 1996.

June 29, 2012|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Sketches of the so-called teardrop rapist over the years.
Sketches of the so-called teardrop rapist over the years. (Los Angeles Police Department )

The so-called Teardrop Rapist, responsible for as many as 35 attacks since 1996, may have struck again this month when a woman was accosted in South L.A. by a gun-wielding man who tried to sexually assault her in an alley before being spooked, police said Thursday.

Los Angeles Police Det. Jesse Alvarado said the 29-year-old woman was walking to work alone about 5:30 a.m. June 15 when she was approached by a man wearing a hoodie on Naomi Avenue near 25th Street.

After trying to talk to her, the man stuck a handgun in her face and forced her into an alley, where he attempted to sexually assault her. But the man became frightened when a vehicle pulled into the alley, and he fled on foot.

"The early morning, a woman alone and everything else suggests this is the man known as the Teardrop Rapist," said Alvarado, who added that previous victims believe they saw a teardrop or mark near one or more of the suspect's eyes. "He is an opportunist. Many of his attacks are attempts because he flees the minute there is a chance he'll get caught. That is what has made him so hard to catch."

The serial rapist has been linked to 35 attacks in Los Angeles dating to February 1996, Alvarado said. His most recent attack was in November when a 15-year-old in southwest L.A. was pulled into a yard and sexually assaulted during the early morning hours.

Investigators say 11 attacks have been linked to the rapist through DNA alone and the remainder by other evidence. He says the LAPD recently reexamined older cases and identified eight robberies they now attribute to the rapist.

Robbery Homicide Division Capt. Bill Hayes said the rapist has struck from Hollywood to South L.A.'s Manchester Boulevard, but a geographic analysis has determined that he may live near the Coliseum.

Detectives on Thursday canvassed the area bounded by Exposition Boulevard to the north, 50th Place to the south, Denker Avenue to the west, and the110 Freeway to the east. They handed out thousands of fliers. Alvarado said the victims were 14 to 41 years old, and 33 of them were Latina.

The assailant is described as Latino with brown eyes and brown hair, 5 feet 2 to 5 feet 6, and 130 to 170 pounds. However, investigators acknowledge differing descriptions because of a variety of caps and bandannas. He typically carries a gun and targets early morning walkers but has been known to wield a knife, Alvarado said.

"He flees on foot but may get there by bus or car," he added.

As to the teardrop, scar or mole on his face, the two most recent victims did not see it, Alvarado said. In those cases, the attacker kept his face covered.

A $50,000 reward is being offered in the case. Detectives ask anyone with information to email rhd-sas@lapd.lacity.org or call (877) LAPD-24-7.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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