Police on Thursday were on the lookout for a rapist they say has struck twice this month along downtown's Skid Row, binding victims in both cases with duct tape. The latest incident happened Monday.
Los Angeles Police Department Detectives say the middle-aged, balding man in a brown Ford “Econoline-type” van picked up women in Skid Row, bound them them with duct tape and raped them. The first rape happened Aug. 1. According to an LAPD account:
… A 37-year-old transient woman accepted a ride from the suspect near 6th Street and Stanford, in Skid Row. According to the victim, the man bound her with duct tape in the van then raped her repeatedly over the next three days, dropping her off in Koreatown.
A second rape was reported Monday:
… Around 10 PM, two women were walking near 6th Street and Towne Avenue, not far from the prior incident. A middle-aged, balding man in a brown van drove up and offered the 29-year-old woman a ride to get some food. The woman accepted the offer.
They drove to the McDonalds restaurant at 7th Street and Alameda. The man told the woman he wanted her to perform a sex act. When she refused, he pulled a knife and bound her arms and legs with duct tape, then gagged her with more duct tape. He drove the van to the 500 block of Palm Avenue, an industrial area of Alhambra, California, where he removed her clothing and raped her.
The suspect led the frightened victim out of the van and into a parking lot with a trash dumpster. The suspect picked up the victim, still naked, bound, and gagged, and threw her into the dumpster, then drove away. The victim was able to make enough noise that a business owner stopped and helped her.
Police were unable to locate the first victim for a follow-up investigation, stated Central Detective Division head Lt. Paul Vernon.
“Detectives worked all day Wednesday following up on leads in this[second] case,” he said. “These types of stranger rapes and abductions are quite the exception, and we take them very seriously.”
Police said they were patrolling Skid Row this week with the specific aim of coming across the van and the suspect. A composite sketch and possibly even surveillance video would be released soon, police stated.
The rapes follow a string of such crimes in the area in 2008, when 37-year-old cab driver Eric Lamont Clay was charged in the rapes of at least four women.
Anyone with information about this latest case was asked to call police at 213-972-1235 or at 800-222-8477.