Police remind public about park rapist
An unknown man linked by DNA evidence to three rapes and a murder in city parks remains at large almost five years after his last known attack in the Northeast.
Philadelphia police hope that they’ll identify and capture the killer this year before he victimizes another woman.
Members of the special victims unit distributed wanted fliers along Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Fairmount Park on Saturday to re-publicize the case in advance of peak season for park use. The leaflets feature a composite sketch of the man suspected in the July 17, 2003, rape and murder of 30-year-old medical student and Army reservist Rebecca Park.
Park had been jogging. Her mostly nude body was found in a wooded area near the 3500 block of Conshohocken Ave. She had been raped, beaten and strangled.
DNA evidence shows that the same man committed two other rapes in 2003 in Fairmount Park, one near Kelly Drive and Fountain Green Road and the other near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Falls Bridge. Both cases involved female joggers. In the latter case, the rapist stabbed the victim several times with a knife, but she fought him off until he fled.
The rapist resurfaced four years later when, on Aug. 11, 2007, he targeted another woman in Pennypack Park near Frankford and Solly avenues. He dragged her from a walking path into the woods and raped her before fleeing deeper into the park.
He was described as Hispanic, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium or muscular build, black hair, a thin moustache, a thin beard and busy eyebrows. He speaks with a Latino accent, police said. In two cases, he wore an earring in his left ear and fled riding a 10-speed bicycle painted metallic purple.
During the 2007 attack, he wore a light blue sleeveless mesh basketball jersey and matching basketball shorts, both with white edging. He also wore a gold chain with crucifix pendant. The victim said he had scars or marks on his upper left torso and arm.
Park users should look out for anyone fitting this description and should be cautious about using the park alone. Call the special victims unit at 215-685-3263 to report information about the cases. ••