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Series of sexual assaults, robberies believed to be by 2 separate men

Riverside police say DNA links a second man, still at large, to a string of 'extremely violent' attacks at massage parlors.

October 10, 2013|By Rick Rojas and Richard Winton
  • Riverside police said investigators found DNA belonging to a second man in some of the sexual assaults.
Riverside police said investigators found DNA belonging to a second man… (Los Angeles Times )

A series of sexual assaults and robberies at massage parlors that investigators initially believed were the work of a serial rapist now appear to be the acts of two men, operating separately, authorities said.

In a news conference Thursday, Riverside police said that one of the men believed to be connected to the string of violent attacks had been arrested and arraigned in the 2008 sexual assault and robbery of three women in Riverside County and 2009 robberies of two women in Corona.

Maurice Jennings, 34, of Corona is being held in lieu of $10 million bail, authorities said. He was arrested Sept. 27.

Police had asked for the public's help in finding the attacker in the series of "extremely violent" sexual assaults during a news conference last month.

Detective Rita Cobb said authorities decided to publicize the investigation because, after years of searching, they had exhausted their other options. Going public, she said, proved "extremely fruitful" and that the majority of the information leading to Jennings' arrest came by way of tips from the public.

On Thursday, police reiterated their appeal as they try to find the second assailant.

The suspect has been described as an African American man in his 40s, about 6 feet tall with a stocky build. In years-old surveillance footage, the man is wearing a white T-shirt over a long-sleeved dark shirt, a cap and sneakers.

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said investigators realized the crimes were the work of two men after DNA belonging to a different man was found in some of the sexual assaults in massage parlors across Southern California between 2003 and 2009.

Those attacks stretched from Gardena to San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Rapes and attacks in Gardena, the San Gabriel Valley, the Fontana area and Riverside involving five locations were tied to one unidentified suspect's DNA.

Both men targeted immigrant workers and sometimes threatened to kill victims if they reported the attacks to police, authorities said. In each case, the attacker entered a massage parlor or spa and somehow made his way to a back area, where he pulled a gun or knife, gathered employees and forced women to disrobe.

In some cases, the man sexually assaulted more than one woman at one location. Each of the robberies, except one that was interrupted, was accompanied by a sexual assault.

Police said they fear many additional attacks went unreported.

Cobb said that the suspect still at large was the more violent of the two.

richard.winton@latimes.com

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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