DNA doesn't match suspect in Lake Highlands rape case

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by MARJORIE OWENS

WFAA

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 9:18 AM

DALLAS –– The investigation into three sexual assaults in the Lake Highlands area continues after police revealed Wednesday afternoon that DNA taken from the first rape did not match suspect Fernando Munoz as investigators initially believed.

The department is investigating similar attacks that took place inside three closely located Lake Highlands homes.Two of the victims live on Ferndale Road and the third victim lives on the nearby street of Aldwick Drive. All of the assaults occurred within two blocks from one another.

"As Chief Brown mentioned yesterday, we are re-doubling all of our efforts in the northeast area, particularly the Lake Highlands area," said Major Jeff Cotner during a news conference Wednesday.

Chief David Brown said Tuesday the department was confident that serial felon Munoz was responsible for the first rape. He's been linked to three sexual assaults between 2008 and 2010 and was arrested on March 1 for outstanding warrants in Denton, Dallas and Harris Counties at his Lewisville home.

DNA results from a forensic test returned Wednesday proved Munoz was not the man responsible for the first assault, Cotner said. 

Police have entered the DNA profile into evidence databases and the department released a document that compiles case details and suspect descriptions provided by the victims in each rape. That's posted below; click the link for a larger .pdf of the spreadsheet.

The new information came a day after hundreds of concerned residents met with officers for a question-and-answers session Tuesday night in Lake Highlands. Attendance swelled to standing room only by the time an officer took the podium. 

"It's just scary with everything going on," said homeowner D'Lane Maselunas. "I just want to feel safe in my home."

Some nearby residents say they are arming themselves. Kimberly Bell said she wasn't surprised that Dallas police did not have her neighbor's attacker. She said she is taking precuations in case someone tries to break into her home.

 

"I am prepared," said Bell. "And a lot of my neighbors are prepared too."

 

The first rape was reported in the 10000 block of Ferndale Road on February 22. In that case, the victim told police the attacker broke into her home early in the morning and raped her at knifepoint. Three weeks later, another rape was reported on the same street and block. A third victim reported a similar attack at her home, located less than two miles away from Ferndale Road, four days after the second rape.

The third case spurred lockdowns at a dozen schools in the area as police searched the area.

 

"We are re-doubling all of our efforts in the northeast area, particularly the Lake Highlands area," said Maj. Jeff Cotner of the Dallas Police Department. "We have three open cases."  

 

In a news conference Tuesday, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said descriptions of the attackers in each case were different. While the suspect description released in the February 22 case described a black male around 35 with an African accent, the suspect descriptions in the other two cases described a Latin male in his 20s with a Spanish accent, one of whom had a round, chubby face. The other man had a thin build and a pencil mustache. 

Police have set up a hotline for tips at 214-670-4415. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of a suspect or suspects in the cases.

Investigators are questioning sex offenders who live in the area. There are 36 within one mile of Ferndale Road, where the first two assaults occured. 

News 8's Steve Stoler contributed to this report

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