The Salt Lake County Sheriff's office has released a new artist's drawing of a serial rapist they believe is responsible for attacking as many as 20 victims.
The new drawing was completed this week by a police officer who sat down with an 11-year-old girl, the rapist's latest victim, and drew the description of the man who attacked her on March 26."We feel that we're pretty close with this drawing because this little gal has been pretty accurate" with descriptions and details, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Capt. Bill Van Wagenen.
The latest sketch differs somewhat from the composite drawing that was released to the media at the end of last month. Investigators said they fear the media's repeated showing of the composite drawing may have done more harm than good.
"I'm afraid (some victims) have formed the visual image of the composite rather than the guy who attacked them," Van Wagenen said.
He explained that a rape is such a traumatic incident for many people there is a natural tendency to want to put up a mental block about the details of the incident. "We have to try and get through the mental block to get a good description," he said.
One man who went to a pizza parlor Friday night was stopped by police after one of the victims thought she recognized him as her attacker. The man apparently looked like the suspect, but after several hours of questioning he was released. The young victim later said the man was not the same man who had attacked her.
In another case, detectives showed a photograph of another suspect to six different victims. Of the six, four of them identified him as the rapist, Van Wagenen said. However, the man had a good alibi. He had been out of the state for the past two years.
Detectives have been keeping very busy lately checking out more than 85 tips they have received since the media began publicizing information about the serial rapist, who often poses as a door-to-door salesman. Although its believed the rapist has not attacked anyone since March 26, investigators are believe he will hit again.
Detectives believe they will be able to capture the rapist if they receive immediate notification after an attack occurs. "We realize this is a traumatic thing, but we need timely notification," the captain said. "I don't know how else we're going to get this guy."
Of the 20 attacks that were reported, none were reported immediately. Like many rape victims, most of the victims of the serial rapist have first called relatives or friends before calling the police.
Van Wagenen encourages women to take extra precautions to avoid becoming victims. "There are a lot of things people can do to protect themselves," he said.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the sheriff's office at 535-5441.