After attacks, Lake Highlands turns to higher power

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 24, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 24 at 10:22 PM

DALLAS — With police seemingly no closer to catching a serial rapist, many are now turning to a higher power.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds walked through the Lake Highlands neighborhood reciting prayers in a plea to capture the man behind a string of assaults.

Neighbors marched in small groups along roads like Ferndale, where the suspect has targeted two women in separate attacks.

The walk was as much a show of faith as force.

“I think we just have to be reminded that God is control, and we ultimately trust him,” said Amy Woodard, as she pushed a stroller through her neighborhood while holding a prayer card. Still she plans to attend an upcoming self-defense class this week.

“I think all those things are good,” she said, but “I do believe ultimately that our most powerful defense is prayer.”

Many in this Northeast Dallas neighborhood have felt helpless since it became clear that one man is behind the string of violent attacks targeting women.

Residents are swamping self-defense classes. Neighbors are sure to set alarms. Police said the suspect tends to break through doors and windows to sexually assault young women alone inside their homes in this quiet residential enclave.

Late last week, police said DNA connected one man to all three attacks and released a sketch of the suspect. Despite a massive increase in resources, police have not arrested anyone.

“I felt from the first attack that it could have been my neighbor; it could have been my best friend down the street,” said Jessica Haas, who came up with the idea of the walk while privately praying with neighbors. “It felt like someone that I knew — even though I don't know their names.”

Neighbors said they felt it was especially important to be seen outside praying together.

"We're not going to stay in our houses with our alarms on and our doors locked.” said Lisetta Layer. “This is our neighborhood, and we're going to stay outside and enjoy it.”

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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