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Serial rapist attacked at least 30 women, targeted immigrants

September 25, 2013|By Richard Winton and Kate Mather

Authorities revealed Wednesday that they believe a serial rapist is responsible for at least 30 “extremely violent” sexual assaults and robberies at massage parlors across Southern California.

The man is suspected in the string of attacks that date back a decade across Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. He appears to target immigrant workers and threatened to kill some victims if they report the attacks to police, officials said.

The first reported attack occurred in Chino Hills in 2003, the most recent in Riverside in 2009.

The cases were connected through a combination of DNA evidence, surveillance videotapes, witness identifications and other evidence. 

In each case, officials said, the rapist showed the basic behavior. The rapist enters the massage parlor or spa, and somehow gets his way into a back area. Then he pulls out a gun or  knife, gathers employees, and forces women to disrobe.

The man then “severely beat the victims” before robbing them, Riverside Police Det. Aurelio Melendrez said.

In one case, the man chased a 55-year-old woman down a hallway, slamming her into a wall so hard that her shoulder dislocated. The man punched her – breaking her collarbone and knocking out five teeth – before he dragged her by the hair back down the hallway.

“He’s capable of great violence,” Melendrez said. “It’s repulsive.”

Investigators began linking the cases last year after DNA taken from a 2009 attack in Riverside matched samples taken from scenes in Gardena, City of Industry, Chino Hills and Fontana. Though DNA has connected only five of the cases, investigators said video footage and other information tied the rapist to five other attacks, including cases in Corona and Pedley where the rapist wore the same shirt.

Because the rapist appeared to target small businesses with immigrant employees, police said they fear many additional attacks went unreported. The rapist also told victims he would kill them if they contacted police, Melendrez said.

“There are aspects of shame, and we believe there are other victims out there,” Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said.

The last linked case was in 2009, but police believe there are more.

“We don’t think he has stopped,” Melendrez said.

Melendrez described the rapist as “confident and brazen,” noting the attacks were “middle-of-the-day crimes.”

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

Authorities said they opted to release a video and photos of the rapist -- a man in his 40s, weighing 240 and 260 pounds, standing about 6 feet tall --because they had exhausted all other methods of trying to find him.

“He’s operating in what we would call a normal state of mind during the rest of his life,” Melendrez said of the rapist. “He’s able to compartmentalize.”

The Riverside County district attorney’s office has charged the rapist with 31 felonies, including multiple counts of kidnapping, assault with a firearm, forced oral copulation and rape.

The July 2012 complaint against John Doe identified 11 victims from six cases.

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