Los Angeles: LAPD detectives are investigating what appears to be a second rape in as many weeks by a middle-aged man driving an Econoline-type van through Skid Row. Police want to warn the public, especially women staying in Skid Row, to be aware and on the lookout for this suspect.
The first instance occurred Sunday, August 1, when a 37-year-old transient woman accepted a ride from the suspect near 6th Street and Stanford, in Skid Row. According to the victim, the man bound her with duct tape in the van then raped her repeatedly over the next three days, dropping her off in Koreatown.
“The challenge for us in this case was the victim’s apprehension to cooperate,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, who heads the Central Detective Division. “It was difficult for officers to get any useful information from her, and since that night we’ve been unable to locate her,” Lt. Vernon explained. Despite that, undercover officers and officers assigned to patrol Skid Row have been on the lookout for the van with horizontal stripes.
Late Monday night, August 10, around 10 p.m., two women were walking near 6th Street and Towne Avenue, not far from the prior incident. A middle-aged, balding man in a brown van drove up and offered the 29-year-old woman a ride to get some food. The woman accepted the offer.
They drove to the McDonalds restaurant at 7th Street and Alameda. The man told the woman he wanted her to perform a sex act. When she refused, he pulled a knife and bound her arms and legs with duct tape, then gagged her with more duct tape. He drove the van to the 500 block of Palm Avenue, an industrial area of Alhambra, California, where he removed her clothing and raped her.
The suspect led the frightened victim out of the van and into a parking lot with a trash dumpster. The suspect picked up the victim, still naked, bound, and gagged, and threw her into the dumpster, then drove away. The victim was able to make enough noise that a business owner stopped and helped her. “The man cut the bindings on her hands and gave her a towel to cover herself,” Lt. Vernon said. Paramedics took the woman to a local hospital for treatment.
“Detectives worked all day Wednesday following up on leads in this case,” Lt. Vernon added. “These types of stranger rapes and abductions are quite the exception, and we take them very seriously.” Officers and detectives continue to patrol Skid Row for the van. Detectives plan to release a composite sketch and possibly video footage in the coming days.
The last series of rapes in Skid Row occurred in 2008. Eric Lamont Clay, 37, was arrested and charged in the rapes of at least four women, whom he picked up in his taxi cab.
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Detective Josh Riggs, Central Sex Unit, at 213-972-1235. Anonymous tips can be called into Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.