Riley County Police and Lawrence Police, working together, released new information Thursday morning about a serial rapist who is believed to have attacked over a dozen women from 2000 to 2008 in the college towns of Manhattan and Lawrence. An attempted rape in 2015 is also believed to be connected.
The Kansas attorney general’s office announced in 2009 that it was investigating the link between the attacks after the two communities sought help from the agency. Most of the attacks happened between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. during school breaks. All were in off-campus housing where students commonly live.
Officials have said the suspect is usually armed and covers his face. He’s also believed to have conducted some sort of surveillance before the attacks.
A website has been established to help in the investigation. The following information was released Thursday morning:
In March of 2009, then Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced that multiple incidents of rape committed over the course of eight years in both Manhattan and Lawrence appeared to be connected. These incidents occurred beginning in October of 2000 and ending in December of 2008, and they involved the victimization of 14 women and ultimately two communities, as all those subjected to these crimes were students of either Kansas State University or the University of Kansas.
Each incident involved a masked intruder entering the victim’s off-campus residence, mostly between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. as the victim slept, and all but one coincided with a break in the academic calendar. The residences themselves varied from apartment complexes to duplexes to single dwellings. While the point of entry was frequently identified, the means by which the suspect made entry were sometimes unknown. Many of the victims reported having locked their door(s), yet there were no signs of forced entry. There were also indications that victims were surveilled by the assailant prior the incident. In all but two cases, the victim was alone.
The assailant was typically described as a white male between 5’9” and 6’0”, with various descriptions of build and estimations of weight and age. We have no confirmed description of the assailant from anyone other than the victims. In most cases a handgun was displayed, which the assailant threatened the victims with as a means to gain compliance. While the physical violence of the assailant was usually limited to the rape itself, these were all very violent acts carried out by an assailant who did so in a cold, calm, calculated manner.
Even before the Attorney General’s announcement, The Riley County Police Department and the Lawrence Police Department were working closely to determine if these cases were related, and our joint investigation ultimately established that sufficient similarities, and a lack of significant dissimilarities, existed between the incidents to conclude that they were likely committed by the same suspect. Nothing in our continued investigation since that time has suggested otherwise. We are here today, July 27, because in the early morning hours on this date in 2015, an unknown assailant entered a residence in the 1400 block of Watson Place in Manhattan with the intent to commit a sexual assault against the female resident, a student attending Kansas State University. A lengthy investigation into the incident has led us to conclude that there is a high probability that the assailant is the same assailant from the previous cases. In 2015, he was described as a white male, approximately 5’10”, and heavier set, most noticeably around the stomach and thighs. The prominent stomach was a frequently mentioned characteristic from previous cases. As for age, we believe the assailant was at least 33 years old at the time of the 2015 incident based upon the date of the earliest case.
We are announcing this connection between the 2015 case and the previous cases for three reasons. First, given the nearly seven year gap between December of 2008 and July of 2015, we would like to know if there have been similar, unreported incidents during that time span. We cannot say enough about the courageous women who have already stepped forward to provide vital information about their assailant. If anyone feels they had an encounter with an individual matching this description, please know that we want to hear from you, and we want to provide help for you. Your information, even if it is several years old, may help bring justice to all the victims. Second, we are making this announcement to solicit information from other individuals who might be able to assist in identifying the assailant. To that end, we are supplying more details than previously released regarding the locations of these incidents. We are hoping that those who were living in the area at the time they happened may recall something that could be useful in our investigation. While we are currently working on a number of leads that we are not in a position to discuss in order not to jeopardize the investigation, major cases are frequently solved with information provided by citizens. We need your help to hasten the assailant’s identification and prevent the assault of further victims. Finally, we are making this announcement to increase safety awareness among the students of Kansas State University and the University of Kansas. We have provided in this release information about the assailant’s description, demeanor, and possible pre-assault actions, and we would like students, as well as the general public, to be mindful of this and to be watchful for anything or anyone that might seem out of place. Do not hesitate to alert the police in such instances. From our perspective, if in any circumstance you wonder whether you should call the police, the answer is yes.
To aid in focusing attention on these cases and assist in providing information to identify and apprehend a suspect, we have dedicated a website, www.kansascollegerapist.com, on which we’ve posted this release along with other important material and resources. Anyone with information relevant to this investigation can visit the site to see the options for contacting us. We also encourage people who want to provide tips to call Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers at 785-539-7777 or toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). SMS Text tips are also accepted by sending a text to “CRIMES” (274637) and starting the body of your message with “TIP353.” Webtips are also accepted by visiting Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers online or www.RileyCountyPolice.org. Finally, Individuals can download the TipSubmit mobile app for both iPhone and Android operating systems and submit anonymous tips via the app. You do not need to leave your name when providing a tip, collect calls are accepted, and you may be eligible for a cash reward. For those living in the Lawrence area, we are asking that you use also use these numbers and resources when providing tips, as one point of contact will help us ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. In addition to any Crime Stoppers reward, an anonymous local donor has provided $10,000 to the Riley County Police Department to use as reward money for information leading to an arrest in these cases.
We want to stress that the survivors of these attacks are our primary concern. Prior to this press conference, we made contact with each one, either in person or by phone. We shared with them the information that we are providing you today, along with our commitment to investigate these cases to the fullest extent, employing any and every means of police and forensic science. Our work is not done until we can declare with certainty that this assailant will never again pose a threat to our communities.
We also contacted Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Kirk Thompson to brief them on the status of the investigation. Both continue to offer their support in our efforts to solve these cases. In addition, we contacted officials with both Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, and their respective police departments. We also re-issued an updated alert to law enforcement agencies nation-wide about this investigation in the event that other jurisdictions have experienced similar, unsolved cases. Finally, we want to the public to know that we have been working with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and the US Marshal’s Service during the course of this investigation. Their valuable assistance has come in the form of evidence collection and evaluation, offender behavioral analysis, and investigative recommendations. We will continue to seek out organizations and individuals, law enforcement or otherwise, who could be of assistance in bringing these cases to successful resolutions.