A serial rapist earlier linked to attacks on three women in the USF area has now been connected by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) to six victims, one of whom may be younger than 18.
One day after the HCSO issued a warning to residents in the USF area about a serial rapist, police announced that DNA evidence has linked the attacker to six separate rapes, according to the Tampa Tribune. DNA from a rape on Aug. 19 may connect the man to a seventh rape, but deputies are still awaiting the results of forensic tests.
Administrators at USF have declined to use the MoBull emergency response system to alert students, and continue to discuss the appropriate response. Worries over creating unwarranted fears and provoking undue panic among students have stayed the University’s hand, said USF spokesman Ken Gullette.
“This is seven rapes over a four-year period,” Gullette said. “Once we start issuing potential alerts, people will start to ignore the MoBull system.”
“We don’t want students to be afraid to drive to the school,” he said.
MoBull is a system to notify students of emergencies on campus with text messages.
Police have reason to believe the attacker is responsible for at least seven rapes in the area, dating from August 2003. Most victims have been women between the ages of 24 and 37, but include a minor, who police suspect is linked to the attacker. Four of the victims have been black, but the race of the June 14 and Aug. 19 victims has not been released.
The suspect is described as a black male between the ages of 20 and 30, 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing between 150 and 200 pounds. He is said to have a distinct birthmark or scar on his upper left arm and is possibly bald or wears something to cover his head. He also emits a pungent stench, according to victims.
In each case, the suspect at large entered his victims’ residences through unlocked windows. University Police spokeswoman Meg Ross urged all students to keep their doors and windows locked.
Ross suggests female students who want to protect themselves consider the women’s self defense program, RAD (Rape/Aggression Defense), which is offered every semester as a one-credit course.
Christine Gibson can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or email@example.com