Police renew call for help in finding rapist
He said his name was “Rob” and he seemed relatively harmless until he got the women into the woods. Then he became a monster. He beat them and assaulted them sexually.
Now Philadelphia police, armed with new information about the unidentified Torresdale Avenue rapist, are again asking for the public’s help in finding him.
On May 15, a third victim reported that she, too, had been attacked in the woods near Cresco Avenue and Rhawn Street, said Capt. John Darby of the police department’s special victims unit. That incident occurred in August 2010. The 27-year-old victim wasn’t sure of the exact date.
But just like two previously reported attacks involving other women, her encounter began when she was standing on the 6900 block of Torresdale Ave. in Tacony and a man in a white pickup truck offered her a ride. It was about 8 p.m. The woman got into the truck.
Darby declined to discuss why she accepted the ride or where she was hoping to go.
The seemingly mild-mannered man drove her to the 8000 block of Cresco Ave., where they both exited the truck. That’s when the man’s evil side emerged.
He dragged her into a secluded area of the park, beat her up and raped her. The victim never saw it coming.
“None of (the victims) felt threatened by him,” said Detective Jim Owens, the lead investigator.
The attacker used his bare hands and brute force.
“The guy is brutal,” Owens said.
“In all of these cases, the victims suffered some serious injuries, facial injuries,” Darby said.
Despite the level of violence, there is no indication that the suspect forced any of the women to enter his vehicle.
The August 2010 incident occurred about a month after a man fitting the same description used the same method to target another victim.
On July 16, 2010, at about 2:30 a.m., a 26-year-old woman was standing along the same stretch of Torresdale Avenue when a man drove up to her and offered her a ride in his white pickup truck. She accepted.
They ended up on the 8000 block of Cresco Ave., where the man dragged the woman into the woods and beat her. She resisted, however, and he fled, leaving her with similar facial injuries.
“He was stymied by the level of fighting by the victim. That’s what enabled her to get away,” Darby said.
A third attack occurred on Aug. 3, 2011, more than a year after the first incident, and involved a 24-year-old woman. She was at Torresdale and Longshore avenues at about 2:30 a.m. when she accepted a ride from a strange man. The beating and rape occurred near the 8100 block of Cresco.
In at least one case, the rapist threatened to harm the woman further if she called for help as he fled the woods.
“He just left them down there in the dark,” Owens said.
Police released a description and composite sketch of the suspect last August. At the time, police were aware only of two attacks.
Darby did not disclose why the August 2010 victim decided to come forward last month, nearly 22 months after the fact. But investigators believe her account, citing its similarity to the other attacks.
“We now have a third victim that has given us information that corroborates the other two,” Darby said.
Police have DNA evidence but have yet to match it with a known DNA sample.
The suspect has identified himself to victims as “Rob” or “Bob” and has been described as white, 25 to 35 years old, 5 feet 9 inches or 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a medium-size or muscular build. He has a fair complexion.
The August 2010 victim reported that the suspect had light brown, closely cropped hair, along with piercings of the brow, right ear and tongue. He wore an “expensive hoop” in his right ear, the woman said.
The August 2011 victim described the suspect’s hair as longer, like the way it appears in the composite sketch, Darby said.
The women described the pickup truck as a newer model. It’s white with ladder racks and exterior toolboxes. The truck has been seen with two ladders loaded to it. One victim said she saw a clipboard with work orders on the console.
“He’s possibly a working guy, a contractor in the area,” Darby said.
The August 2010 victim said she saw the suspect again several weeks after he attacked her. This time, he was driving a dark blue minivan. It was a newer “town and country style” model with a child safety seat in the rear and an Eagles sticker in the back window.
The victim “wanted to go after him and he took off immediately,” Darby said.
Police hope intricate descriptions of the suspect will make him easily recognizable to acquaintances and the public.
“If you look at the total picture, anybody who does know him or has had contact with him, we’re asking that they call us,” Darby said.
Call the special victims unit at 215-685-3251 to report information about the case. ••