Search continues for serial robber, rapist

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 24 2011 2:04 p.m. MDT

HOLLADAY — A man who police say kidnapped, robbed and sexually assaulted a woman at a gas station remained on the run one week after the incident.

Law enforcers from several Salt Lake County jurisdictions are anxious to find and arrest the man who they say has shown a increasing pattern of targeting and assaulting women.

"He's a serial robber, serial kidnapper and serial rapist at this point," said supervisory deputy U.S. marshal Jim Phelps, head of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team.

On Aug. 17, a woman filling up her car at the Smith's Food and Drug gas station, 845 E. 4500 South, about 11:20 p.m., was carjacked at gunpoint. The woman was taken to an ATM, forced to withdraw money and then taken to another area where she was sexually assaulted before being released.

Authorities believe the man responsible can be linked to possibly as many as 16 to 19 incidents throughout the county.

Phelps said the alleged assailant started off robbing people at ATM's and committing home invasion robberies.

"Then over a period of time, he added some sexual overtones. He was making women undress after robbing them," he said.

The crimes have now escalated into rape, Phelps said. While both men and women were initially targeted, the past few crimes believed to have been committed by the man involved all female victims, he said.

"He's increasing the violence with each incident," Phelps said. "We don't know at what point the woman might not come back at all."

Phelps said he and his agents got chills as they watched the surveillance video of the woman at Smith's being taken at gunpoint. When they initially watched the video, the woman was still missing and investigators didn't know if she was still alive.

Monday, detectives from several police agencies met to trade notes about the wanted man. Phelps said JCAT was assisting all these agencies and his group has been out several nights each week tracking leads.

All investigators need, he said, is a name or moniker and they would find the man.

Phelps fears there may be other women who have been victimized by the man but have been afraid to come forward.

"In each case, he makes a lot of threats to these victims so they don't contact law enforcement," he said.

Unified police say they have not had another incident they can link to the man since the Aug. 17 carjacking. The latest description they have on the man is a male about 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds with a thin build.

Anyone with information on the man can call JCAT at 801-524-5693 or their local police department.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.comTwitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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