Dallas police: Suspect a DNA match to 3 Lake Highlands attacks

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by WALT ZWIRKO, TODD UNGER and JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on April 3, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 4 at 7:35 PM

UPDATE 4/4: Dallas police announced Thursday forensic analysis of the DNA sample provided by Ceasr Benitez showed his DNA matched the DNA evidence collected from the Feb. 22, Mar. 15, and Mar. 19 sexual assaults in Lake Highlands.

DALLAS — Dallas police say they have arrested a suspect in their investigation of three sexual assaults in Lake Highlands.

Cesar Benitez, 30, was captured Tuesday afternoon after a Crime Stoppers tip provided specific information.

The northeast Dallas community that has lived in terror for more than a month expressed relief late Tuesday night.

At a news conference Tuesday night, Chief David Brown said Benitez was pulled over for a traffic violation on Central Expressway around 1 p.m. Tuesday. He exited at Walnut Hill and then fled on foot.

Benitez was captured without incident following a brief pursuit.

"This was a needle-in-a-haystack search," Brown said.

The chief said Benitez voluntarily confessed to all three crimes and provided DNA samples for lab analysis.

He is currently charged with one count of sexual assault for a March 15 assault in the 10000 block of Ferndale and with one count of aggravated assault for a February 22 offense on the same street.

Brown said a palm print taken from the March 15 crime scene matched Benitez.

He has not yet been charged with the March 19 assault pending a determination of the appropriate charge.

Bond was set at $4,564,000.

"This neighborhood has lived in fear," Chief Brown said. "We hope that they have some sense of relief that a suspect has been brought to justice."

Police officials asked the news media not to publish any photos of Benitez until their investigation of the March 19 offense is complete.

Sources told News 8 officers had been watching the man for a week because he matched the description of the serial rapist who has been terrorizing women in Lake Highlands, and he has a history of behavior that leads them to believe he might be capable of rape.

Dallas police previously revealed DNA testing on samples taken in three sexual assaults in the area connected one unknown person to the attacks.

"Very relieved... fantastic!" said Lake Highlands resident Kyle Atkins. "It's been something that everybody in our area's been very concerned about. If someone's been apprehended we just hope it's the right person."

"I want proof," said Kimberly Bell. "Once we get the full proof, I'll be really happy."

Another resident could hardly contain his elation.

"It's the best news I've heard in months... years," he said. "Better than Christmas!"

 

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