Ever since police announced Monday that they’re investigating four recent reports of a man preying on women in East Jackson detectives’ phones have been ringing with tips and leads.
Detectives can’t say for sure, but they wonder if the recent cases are connected to a rash of break-ins and assaults on the same street in 2013 and 2014.
Those cases involved a prowler who would go in houses in the East Kelly Avenue area late at night and assault sleeping women.
He entered through unlocked windows and doors, police said. At least two recent cases, from Sept. 5, are similar.
“The guy enters the house and spoons with her, and she wakes up and it isn’t her boyfriend,” Sgt. Russ Ruschill said.
The victim started yelling and fighting with the guy, who left, reports said.
Another case was reported just two hours later and three blocks away.
“She wakes up to him touching her,” Ruschill said.
Neither victim knew the intruder.
Those cases are being investigated as voyeurism and sexual battery, and are the most similar to the crimes that were committed and are still unsolved from 2013 and 2014.
In August of 2013, at least three women reported waking up to find a stranger in their homes. In two of those cases, the victims said the man was touching them inappropriately.
The reports stopped, but in October 2014 a woman reported waking up to a stranger fondling her.
The suspect or suspects in those cases was never found, though police have worked leads over the years.
The victims in all the cases, old and new, live close to each other, police said, which is what makes them wonder if they’re looking for the same guy they never found in 2014.
“I can’t say if it’s the same person doing these things,” Ruschill said. “But they’re all in a close area of town and are predacious in nature. And I have to go with what I know.”
The victims are mostly young, petite women, Ruschill said.
On late Friday and into the early hours Saturday, there were two more suspicious reports.
A woman said she was walking home and a guy yelled “hey” to her and then tried to grab her purse. The woman was walking near East Kelly.
The other report was the same night when someone saw a man masturbating outside a young woman’s bedroom window. The witness yelled at the suspect, who took off.
Ruschill said the reports are worrisome.
“I don’t have a good description of the person,” he said. “I just know there are some members of our community who are in danger because of this behavior.”
Police urge residents to be careful to lock doors and windows at night.
“You can’t eliminate the desire of a criminal, but you can eliminate their opportunity,” he said.
Police are investigating potential cases of sexual battery, criminal entry, attempted theft, voyeurism and unlawful contact.
If you have any information or have noticed suspicious activity, especially in East Jackson, call police at 733-1430.