Dallas police try to calm community anger, ask for help in solving serial rapes

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 10:57 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 6 at 4:53 PM

Serial rapist

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DALLAS -- About 20 officers from the Dallas police force, including some in the top ranks, spent about two hours meeting with a frustrated and frightened community Thursday night.

"The community is warned when we have West Nile or measles, but it's appalling that it took seven victims before anyone was actually notified," said Bennie Jeffrey, who held a sign made of cardboard as he walked the street outside the True Lee Missionary Baptist Church, where the meeting was held.

Jeffrey's sign claimed his community was traditionally the "first to be arrested" yet the "last to be notified."

Inside, many people stood up, asking why police waited until September to alert the community, when the attacks began in June.

"It could've been me. I walk those streets. We should've been informed when it was one," one woman said. "It was one, two, three, four, now eight. We should've known."

The crowd corrected her quickly, shouting, "Nine!"

The ninth known victim came forward Thursday, reporting she had been assaulted in the 2700 block of Morning Ave. in late July.

One woman at the meeting said her sister was among the victims. She said she came to confront Dallas police because her sister can't.

"She's hurt, she's troubled, she's not the same, she'll never be the same," she said.

News 8 is not naming the woman to protect her sister's identity. But she relayed details of the attack that happened in the early hours of Sunday morning on Spring Avenue. She said her sister, "was leaving Williams Chicken on Spring Avenue and a guy came up behind her with a mask on, grabbed her from behind put the gun to her head, told her if she made a noise that he'd shoot her.

"If they could've told us in June, maybe she would have thought about not walking," the woman said.

Police told the community they are using all means possible: helicopters, horses, uniformed and non-uniformed patrols, as well as electronic methods of surveillance, to try to track this serial rapist.

They explained to the community that they alerted them as soon as they noticed a pattern. They said the victims had been so traumatized that the women slowly came forward to detectives with details.

"Within the last ten days, we started to get information that showed that it could be similar -- somebody wearing something across the face, [a] bandanna, pair of underwear over their head," Deputy Chief Sherryl Scott told the crowd.

Not everyone blamed DPD. Some blamed themselves, saying the neighborhood has, for too long, turned a blind eye to bad behavior.

Police pledged to the crowd they would catch the suspect.

"And when, not if [we catch the suspect], I hope to see this kind of turnout for a community watch meeting," said Deputy Chief Mike Coleman.

Police did meet with a witness Thursday, but were not able to draw up a sketch of the suspect. The description remains the same: a black man between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-11 tall, about 200 pounds, he wears metal-rimmed eye glasses, and covers his face with a bandanna, a mask, or a piece of clothing. He always uses a gun.

Police say because he continues to attack in the same neighborhood, they believe he most likely lives there, too.

A $15,000 reward is being offered in the case.

"I'm not ashamed to admit we can't do this alone," Scott said. "We need your help."

One member of the community acknowledged there is anger and frustration, but she said now is not the time to dwell on that. She also said she wants Chief David Brown to launch an internal investigation about the response.

"But that's down the road," she said. "Just catch the guy. That's what we're here for folks. Let's catch him, let's catch him, let's catch him."

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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