A 29-year-old Jasksonville woman crawled into a bed in a friend's home to recover from a rape she didn't plan to report to police. Her attacker may have been counting on her to stay quiet.
"I saw her face so I called 911," the 50-year-old man told the Times-Union on Thursday. "They took her to the hospital. She never said much about it."
Police think the Jacksonville woman is among at least nine, and likely many more, victims who have become prey for a serial rapist who has been approaching victims in mostly the Springfield area since 2001. The attacker is targeting prostitutes and homeless women, sometimes driving them to other areas.
After noticing similarities, in the two attacks in January detectives began looking at older cases and made the link. It has been confirmed that the police have good leads into this case but are waiting for lab results from "a mountain of evidence."
When this man attacks, he sometimes threatens victims with a box cutter or gun or uses hands to choke them. Sometimes he barters for sex acts or attacks his victims who accept rides from him.
Police say the attacks have escalated in violence since they began, with the latest on Jan. 12 leaving a 40-year-old homeless woman in critical condition after someone slashed her throat, according to a police report.
Part of the problem with solving the case is that victims who make their living selling sex in the street aren't likely to report attacks, according to the Sex Crimes lieutenant. Police have been speaking with prostitutes and others in the Springfield area in an attempt to encourage more victims to come forward and to gather more intelligence, Smith said.
Sabrina Gouch, a victims advocate for the Justice Coalition, said Thursday that even women who aren't in the sex trade who are raped are often ashamed and don't report the attack.
"Bottom line, no woman deserves to be raped, no matter what she's doing," Gouch said. "The ones that are unreported far outnumber the ones that are reported even among upstanding citizens."
Some of the victims from this investigation refused to let police gather DNA evidence. However, they did help police gather descriptions of their attacker.
According to police reports, the attacker is a black male with a dark complexion and dreadlocks. He is about 25 to 35 years old, around 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He may have a scar on one of his legs or use the nickname "Black."
Anyone with tips for police can anonymously call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS or the Sheriff's Office at (904) 630-0500.