Four women have been attacked.
GIRARD — The man who kidnapped and raped a woman here late last week told the woman she was not the first — and police believe him.
Detective Greg Manente said the city has seen four rapes committed here in the last year and a half where the description of the attacker is similar, and the man uses similar methods to attack the victim. There have also been two cases of public indecency in the area where the rapes have taken place.
The man is described as between 23 and 27 years old, between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall, and a little more than 200 pounds with a large muscular build and a reddish-brown beard.
Manente said police believe the rapes, and possibly the acts of indecency, are the actions of one person.
Of the six reported incidents, four have taken place in the Elruth Court area. One of the rapes took place on Beechwood Drive and another on Highland Avenue. The ages of the females attacked range from 16 to 36.
In the most recent case, A 36-year-old city woman told police she was walking near her Elruth Court home at 8 p.m. Friday when a man grabbed her by her hair and forced her into a nearby wooded area.
In the woods, he produced a small handgun and told the woman she would not be harmed if she followed orders. He then made the woman perform a sex act.
Reports said the rapist then told the woman to lie face down in the grass and not move or call police. The woman told him she would comply because he could be one of her neighbors — to which he simply said, “I could.”
Manente said police want to make sure the public is taking all precautions against becoming a victim and that police have all the available information to catch the attacker.
“We want to make sure the public is aware so people can be a little more cautious. If there are any more victims, we would like them to come forward even if they don’t want to do anything more than report the crime,” said Manente. “Possibly, there may be other agencies investigating something similar.”
The police department, Manente said, has collected DNA evidence from some of the rape scenes.
Manente said there are basic safety tips to be followed such as extra caution when out walking, even in groups. A 16-year-old rape victim was taken by the attacker when walking with three juvenile male friends in November 2007.
Manente said it is wise not to walk at night unless absolutely necessary and if one must walk at night, stay in a well-lit area. He said residents should also be alert and aware of their surroundings, carry a cellular phone and always let someone know where they are or will be going.
“We are not saying that it is not safe to walk the streets after dark, but we are trying to eliminate what appears to be a crime of opportunity,” he said.
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