Police detectives have received dozens of phone tips since the Deseret News reported the rape of a 12-year-old Salt Lake girl last weekend.
But it will probably be some time before they know if the information will bring them closer to making an arrest.Investigators believe the man who raped the young girl may be a serial rapist who has operated for about nine months, particularly in the west Salt Lake area.
The 12-year-old girl was riding a bicycle and delivering the newspaper about 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 when a man walked into the street near 800 West and 1100 South to intercept her.
The man asked if she could tell him where a specific address was. She said no and kept riding. The man then chased her, pulled her off her bike and forced her behind a garage. He raped her and slugged her in the side of the head when she tried to fight, police reports stated.
The Deseret News and the Newspaper Agency Corp. have offered a reward of $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. "We've received real good response," said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Roy Wasden. "We're following up as quickly as we can."
Police won't say exactly how many sexual assaults the suspect is believed to be responsible for, but most of the man's victims have been young women.
- On March 18, a 15-year-old girl was raped near 700 N. Redwood Road as she was walking home. The girl told police she was taking a short cut behind a shopping center about 2:45 a.m. when she noticed a man following her.
The man clamped his hand over her mouth and dragged her to the north side of a building, where he threatened to kill her and then raped her. He wrapped a coat around her head and ran away.
- On July 31, two girls, ages 13 and 14, were walking on the jogging path at the Jordan River Parkway, 1600 West and 550 North. A man began following them, pulled out a knife and forced them against a fence at Backman Elementary School. The suspect forced the girls to lie down and threatened to kill them, according to a report. He ordered one of the girls to undress and then raped her. The other was not sexually assaulted.
The suspect is described as being a large-framed man, very muscular, with an olive complexion. He is powerful enough to physically drag or carry his victims some distances to where the assaults occur and is violent. He is described as being in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall.
Detectives believe the same man committed those three offenses but have not elaborated about other rapes that have occurred in the area. Some of those cases that include similar general suspect descriptions include:
- On Sept. 22 a woman was walking home near 700 West and 3300 South when a man grabbed her from behind, forcibly dragged her to the rear of a building and raped her. He wrapped a sweater around her eyes during the incident.
- Three days later, a man with a similar description grabbed a woman from behind, pulled her between two buildings, wrapped a sweater around her eyes and raped her. The woman was walking to work about 5:45 a.m. on the railroad tracks at 1300 S. 600 West.
- On Oct. 17, a 13-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a man who approached her from behind near 500 N. Redwood about 9 a.m. The girl was forcibly blindfolded.
- The next day, a 33-year-old woman was sexually assaulted as she was walking through Jordan Park, 1000 South 900 West, about 10 p.m.
- On Nov. 17, a 16-year-old girl was walking to work at 7 a.m. when a man approached her and asked if she knew a specific person. He then pulled out a knife and forced the girl behind a building near 1500 West 1700 South. There, he forced a sex act upon her.
- On Sept. 30, a 15-year-old girl was raped near 850 West 1300 South after she left a party.
- A man approached a 22-year-old woman from behind near 319 N. 800 West on Aug. 9. He dragged her into a vehicle and raped her.
- On Aug. 5, a 31-year-old woman was approached by a man as she was walking downtown. He forced her into a car and took her to 900 West 1300 North, where she was raped.
In an unusual warning, Salt Lake police caution young girls against walking alone in west-side city neighborhoods where a series of sexual assaults have occurred. Girls are asked to be watchful for suspicious persons who ask for directions or approach them in an aggressive manner from behind.
"We recommend that young women stay in areas where there are groups of people and not allow themselves to become isolated either in parks, alleys or fields that may be used as short cuts," the alert says. Residents are asked to report any unusual sounds, activities or suspicious individuals to the police by calling 911 or 799-3000.