PHOENIX - Police are on the hunt for a serial rapist suspected of attacking a 17-year-old girl in Phoenix Monday morning.
Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said the teen was on her way to South Mountain High School when the young man forced her into a vacant home at knifepoint. He called the attack, “very disturbing.”
The man released the girl after the assault and she sought out family members for help. Investigators say the girl did not suffer serious physical injuries.
Crump says the case may be connected to two other sexual assaults in the area of 7th Street and Carson Road; the first in November and the second in January. Victims have reportedly been targeted in neighborhoods stretching from Southern Avenue to Baseline Road, and 19th Avenue to 7th Street.
Neighbors say the fact that the suspect knew the house was vacant meant that he cased out the neighborhood.
“There are children that wait at that bus stop in the morning time, so this had to be someone who's actually out here watching and knows,” said Charise Hatchett, who lives across the street and has a daughter the same age as the victim. “It's scary because who knows if he's been watching my girls?”
“The attacker seems to be attacking younger-aged children and that's what I have,” said another neighbor, Jason Henry. “Younger girls especially, so it's an extreme concern.”
Crump told ABC15 in January that the victims in the first two attacks were 10 and 12 years old, and both were going to or from school at the time of the attacks. One was bound and held at knifepoint.
Police said Monday that the incidents have even more similarities, with all three victims being pulled into vacant buildings and threatened with a knife. The first two assaults were reportedly linked by DNA evidence.
“This is something that he's making a career,” said Hatchett. “He needs to be caught very, very soon.”
“Now you're going to have to be on super parent patrol,” said Henry.
The suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, 5 feet 9 to 5 feet 11 inches tall with a thin build and dark skin. He was described as talking in a deep voice and having short hair, possibly shaved or short on the sides.
Anyone with information in the attacks is urged to contact Phoenix police.
To read a letter sent home with South Mountain High School students on Monday, click 'next page'