Group canvasses complex targeted by serial rapist

June 19, 2012 2:53:52 AM PDT
For the past three Sundays, women at a southwest Houston apartment complex have been terrorized by a serial rapist and his accomplice. This Sunday, residents and community activists were out spreading the word, demanding the attacks end and encouraging neighbors to be on guard.

Two men are suspected in three rapes which all took place at Mills Apartments off Bissonnet and the West Sam Houston Tollway.

Over the last three weeks, the complex was a crime scene. This week, it was a stomping ground for people who say they are fed up with the violence.

Community activists and Mills Apartments residents canvassed the area, distributing fliers with sketches of the two suspects.

Police are also working to find the suspects before they find another victim.

According to investigators, one is a lookout and the other is an armed robber and rapist. The victims appear to be chosen at random.

Both suspects in these cases are described as black males. One is 17 to 21 years of age, about 5 feet 5 inches tall with a small but slightly muscular build. He was believed to be armed with a revolver. The other suspect is in his 20s, about 6 feet tall with a medium to thick build.

In all three incidents, the armed suspect forced his victims at gunpoint into a vacant apartment where he sexually assaulted them. In at least one of the incidents, the suspect fired a weapon into the air. The second suspect was present in at least two of the incidents but did not participate in the assaults.

One of the victims and her fiancée are now suing the Mills Apartments owners and management -- Wells Fargo Bank and Devonshire Real Estate and Asset Management.

A court document drawn up by their attorney explains that she and her boyfriend had only lived in the complex five days at the time the attack against her happened.

They are seeking damages for medical care and mental and physical pain and suffering. They claim in the lawsuit, which was filed Friday, that the apartments failed to provide any safety or security precautions to residents.

We're told security cameras were brought in after the crimes, but residents say they should have been there all along, and they should not have to live in fear.

"I'm scared. Because if he raped, I'm thinking the next time -- because he has his picture all over the news -- he is going to kill the next person," Doris Grant said.

Many women in the complex are changing their routines and doing what they can to protect themselves.

"I put more locks on my door and I've got the alarm service now," Grant said.

"I don't go anywhere at night," Karen Thomas said. "And I have a car, but I just stay in the house. And it's bad to live like that."

Community activists also gave safety tips to residents Sunday; for example, have some kind of noisemaker with you like a whistle, bell or alarm, and alert neighbors through a buddy system when walking alone.

Anyone with information in these cases or on the identity of the suspects in the composite sketches is urged to contact the HPD Special Crimes Division at 713-308-1100 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

For more tips on assault prevention, click the "Preventing sexual assault" link at this San Jacinto College website.

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