MORROW — Police are bringing the heat to areas where a serial rapist has been linked by DNA to attacks on women in Clayton County, mostly in apartment complexes, after the suspect violated a seventh woman, this time in Morrow.
Clayton County Police say the latest attack was on March 4 when a woman at the Spring Lake Apartments, 7000 Southlake Pkwy., returned to her home and was forced inside by the suspect, who was armed with a knife. The woman’s boyfriend broke up the attack and the suspect fled. CCPD brought out K-9s, but they were unable to track down the suspect.
DNA evidence from the latest attack, as well as sketches from the descriptions of two survivors, linked the suspect to six other rapes dating back to at least July 2015. CCPD is asking anyone who can positively identify the suspect in the sketches or who sees any suspicious activity to call 911 immediately.
CCPD is handing out information to apartment complex managers, starting at The Grove Apartment Complex in Southlake, 7290 Southlake Pkwy., and has stepped up uniform patrols and added foot patrols around areas where the suspect is known to have attacked women. Those include Ga. Highway 138, Southlake Parkway and Battlecreek Road.
• Chaselake Drive, which is near the Averly Apartments, Chase Village, Battle Creek Village, and Jester Creek Trail off Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro;
• Roberts Drive, which is near the Emerald Pointe Apartments, Central Park Apartments, and the GRTA Park and Ride in Riverdale;
• Southlake Cove Court, which makes a ring around the Southlake Cove Apartments in Jonesboro;
• Brookview Drive, which is also near the Emerald Pointe Apartments, Central Park Apartments, and GRTA Park and Ride in Riverdale;
• Wynfield Drive, which is near the Rex Mill Square Apartments, Bloom at Jonesboro Apartments, and Crossroads South Shopping Center off Tara Boulevard and Ga. Highway 138 in Jonesboro.
One victim was attacked in her single-family home.
Jonesboro Police Chief Clifford Kelker told the News, “We are monitoring updates and will advise our community accordingly. We are not involved in the investigation; however, we will be vigilant in making our citizens aware and looking for any suspects that are generated. None of the rapes were in our jurisdiction. Our investigator is maintaining contact with the investigative team for updates.”
One victim told the News that she was attacked by the suspect and expressed frustration that progress had not been made in her case. The woman later approached the Clayton County Board of Commissioners asking why more had not been done to catch him. It is the News’ policy not to identify victims of sexual assault.
Police say investigators at first did not link the crimes because the suspect changes his methods from case to case.
“We don’t often have rapes by strangers,” said Southern Crescent Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Gayla Nobles. “The rapist is usually known to the victim. This is like the stranger jumping out of the bushes.”
Nobles added, “I’m glad to see that law enforcement has stepped up patrols but the greatest thing we have is people on the lookout and the community being aware. I think for the safety of the community, people need to take all precautions.”
That means “making sure doors and windows are locked and not going out alone,” she said. “I know in this day and time, it’s hard to be always so vigilant. We know he’s [the suspected rapist] got the element of surprise and is a really dangerous person, so we’ve got to take precautions and the community needs to be informed.”
CCPD also is urging everyone to remain alert — for example, staying off social media and looking around while walking down the street or getting in and out of cars — and to lock all doors and windows at home, whether day or night.
Nobles stressed that none of the victims of this suspect is to blame for what was done to them.
“There’s a lot of victim blaming that still goes on in our society,” Nobles said, “but it’s our job to support victims and listen to them. That’s what our agency does, make sure they get help they need. Nobody goes out and says, ‘Today I want to be a victim.’ No one says, ‘I want to be a victim of murder, I want to be a victim of sexual assault. I want to be a victim of violence.’”
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/