JONESBORO — In a press conference at Clayton County Police headquarters Friday, Criminal Investigations Division head Maj. Craig Hammer urged all members of the public to be vigilant in their comings and goings and said women in particular should not go around by themselves after dark as the hunt for a serial rapist continues. “We are asking the public’s assistance and women should be very diligent of their surroundings. When you come home or leave home, you need to be with a friend, a spouse, not by yourself,” he said.

“CID is following all leads, bringing in persons of interest. Unfortunately, none of those have panned out,” Hammer said. Some of them willingly supplied a DNA sample; others have refused until a search warrant is issued, but “none panned out.”

Seven confirmed cases are linked by the suspect’s DNA. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting CCPD and the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, and Hammer said the department has asked GBI to expedite the latest rape kit, which GBI hopes to turn around in a week. Hammer could not confirm or deny that the suspect was responsible for the latest sexual assault and rape at a Morrow apartment complex on Southlake Parkway March 1.

In at least two of the linked cases, Hammer said children of the victims witnessed their mothers’ rapes.

CCPD is “working with an outside agency” to develop a profile of the suspect, who Hammer said seemed “very comfortable” terrorizing the local area. “There’s no evidence yet that he’s connected to any other rapes in metro Atlanta.”

Hammer said the suspect, who changes his methods frequently, does not use a condom and does not cover his face. Thus far, he has preyed on African-American women. On several occasions, the rapist has exchanged words with the women he singles out as they enter or leave their apartments or homes.

Twice, the rapist brandished a gun; once, a knife; once, a mallet; and in the other cases, the suspect was unarmed.

In five cases, the rapes took place in apartment complexes; in two, the attacks happened in a single-family home and a townhouse. Security cameras so far have not yielded any useful information, Hammer said.

In one case around November or December 2018, Hammer said, the victim saw him leave in a car but was only able to give a general description of the vehicle.

The best description police have of the rapist is an African-American male, about 5 feet, 9 or 10 inches tall, with a low haircut, and the police sketches from survivors’ descriptions.

“I want to assure you that the Clayton County Police Department is doing everything in our power to apprehend this suspect,” Hammer stated. “In cooperation with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, we’re getting in these areas with heavy patrols, so we are out there. Citizens have to be very alert and aware of their surroundings, not distracted and very vigilant.”

Hammer said this is especially true for the women of Clayton County.

“Be ready to protect yourself,” he said.

If you can identify the suspect, dial 911.

If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 770-477-2177.

Learn more about the Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center at https://www.scsac.org/

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Crime and Safety Reporter