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Tempe police capture sex assault suspect Ekwunze Owen Jr.

Posted at 8:46 PM, Nov 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-12 19:34:15-05

Tempe police say they have arrested the suspect they believe has committed multiple sexual offenses in the Valley, including the assault of an elderly woman in Tempe.

Tempe Police Sgt. Mike Pooley said 24-year-old Ekwunze Owen Jr. was located and taken into custody around midnight near Rural and Broadway roads.

Pooley said Owen was with a 25-year-old woman, believed to be his girlfriend, at the time of his arrest.

On Tuesday night, police identified Owen as the man who sexually assaulted a 91-year-old woman in October and also committed at least three indecent exposure incidents in Mesa.

Pooley said on November 8, Owen entered another woman's home, but fled when she began screaming for help. It was after this incident that police positively identified Owen as the suspect using surveillance video from a nearby convenience store.

At a Wednesday morning news conference, Tempe Police Cmdr. Kim Hale said the suspect's DNA was obtained by court order and it matched DNA taken from scenes in Tempe and Mesa.

Hale said Owen made statements on the night of his capture that placed him at the crimes.

Owen reportedly had been living in the common area of a west Tempe apartment complex, but was arrested at an apartment on Apache Boulevard.

Hale said Owen had been dating his girlfriend for some time and that they have a child together. He said the girlfriend herself is a past victim of domestic violence.

He also said Owen comes from a good family and family and friends understood the gravity of the crimes and were very helpful in the investigation.

Owen reportedly began his crimes as a peeping Tom, then masturbating in public to sexual assault. Hale said the suspect typically targeted victims over the age of 50.

Mesa Police Cmdr. Jeff Thompson said the incidents began in 2012, with 10 they've identified involving this suspect so far.

Thompson said when DNA samples were taken, they came back to an unknown subject.

Then the Mesa DNA samples matched the DNA from the Tempe case involving the 91-year-old woman.

Police said one of the characteristics of the suspect was how he selected his victims. They said he would knock on doors and ask to be let inside.

In one incident, the victim reported her e-reader had been stolen. Police reportedly found the item in his residence when Owen was arrested.