He stakes out children’s homes, waits for their parents to leave, then attacks. With no one home to help them, girls are raped in their bedrooms and foyers.
The attacker carries a weapon, threatens the girls’ lives and always manages to escape.
Chandler detectives joined together Monday to hunt down a predator who has frightened residents by raping three teenage girls since January. Police believe the same man has spoken with many other children at their homes.
His most recent attack was Friday in the 1100 block of North Monte Vista Street, near McQueen Road and Orchid Lane, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in her bedroom after her parents left for work. The man frightened the child so much that she didn’t report the crime until Sunday, police said.
All of his attacks have occurred within a 1.5 mile stretch along McQueen Road, from north of Ray Road to south of Chandler Boulevard. Police believe he probably lives nearby.
“That’s just hitting way too close to home,” said Kevin McKinney, 21, a resident in the most recent neighborhood to be struck by the rapist. “I can’t believe no one noticed him.”
Police spokesman Sgt. Rick Griner said authorities have beefed up patrols, plan to canvass neighborhoods and will create a task force.
“We have detectives working together to come up with a strategy to get this person,” Griner said.
He would not say what police are doing, but said their tactics will include working undercover to find the man.
The attacker is described as Hispanic, in his mid 20s to early 30s. He stands 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall, has a muscular build, dark hair and brown or hazel eyes. Police said he speaks English with a Spanish accent, and has recently worn a black ski mask.
“He’s hitting only places where there’s a teenage girl there alone,” said Chandler police detective Livi Kacic.
Police said in all of his attacks, the man appears around 7 a.m. In many instances, he has pretended there’s a nearby fire to lure the kids out of their homes.
Sara Hernandez is a mom who lives in public housing at 73 S. Hamilton Street, where an attack occurred Jan. 16.
“It’s scary,” she said. “I’ve just been looking out.”
Hernandez said a friend told her she had seen a suspicious man hanging around the neighborhood a week before the attack.
In her neighborhood, several unattended children were riding around on skateboards and some toddlers were running in diapers on Monday. They told the Tribune that their parents weren’t home.
Police are reminding people to supervise their kids, and to always lock their doors and windows and be on the lookout for suspicious people. They said to explain to children that they should never answer the door for strangers.
“We believe he’s watching the comings and goings of his victims’ houses, as far as when the parents leave and when the kids go to school,” Griner said.
In the attack on Jan. 31 at 1320 N. McQueen Road, a 14-year-old girl opened the door to leave for school and was forced back inside by the attacker, who then raped her for half an hour.
In the incident on Jan. 16, the man pretended to be working with a utility company and asked two 13-year-old girls if he could enter their home for work. When he walked inside the house, he assaulted one girl, but the pair of teens fought him, forcing him to leave.
Chandler Unified School District has sent at least one letter to parents alerting them about the predator, but parents in the Gilbert Unified School District said they haven’t seen any information from their schools. The rapist has struck in neighborhoods not far from Mesquite High and Islands Elementary schools.
“With the vicinity, the person could carry into Gilbert,” said Jennifer Oxspring, a Gilbert mom. “I told (my daughters) mainly to take precautions. I try to be home when they come home from school and leave in the morning.”
Police said there may be additional victims who have not come forward. They are asking the public to report any crime and call (480) 782-4410 with any information.
For those who want to remain anonymous, call Silent Witness at (800) 343-8477.
In Phoenix a different person has been sexually attacking girls ages 3 to 13 in their homes. The man targets Phoenix city housing and sometimes kidnaps the children from their beds. Police said evidence indicates he is not the same man as the Chandler rapist.
— Tribune writers Tammy Krikorian and Christian Richardson, and ABC15 News contributed to this report.
Tuesday night, Chandler police will take to the streets to hand out flyers to residents, warning them of a man who has raped three teenager girls. Police are trying to raise public awareness in hopes of catching the suspect.
During a Jan. 31 attack he was wearing a brown work coat with an attached hood, said Sgt. Rick Griner. He also wore faded blue jeans and tan work boots with paint drops on them. A suspicious vehicle also was spotted in the area of the rapes.