Town on edge over 'Twilight Rapist'

January 25, 2010 8:56:50 PM PST
In the past year, a rapist has attacked eight women west of Houston and now investigators with the Department of Public Safety are on the case. We first told you about the incidents last summer, but since then nobody has been caught.

Investigators have linked 13 crimes to the same man but so far they only have a vague description to go on. Many in one community are living in fear.

About 6,000 people call Yoakum, Texas home.

"We're close," said resident Tina.

A friendly town where just about everyone knows everyone, but lately a stranger is on the streets.

"It's very scary," said Tina. "People are worried."

That stranger is targeting older women, especially those who live alone, and committing rapes and robberies. In some cases the suspect has unscrewed light bulbs and cut phone lines before attacking, and it's changing the way people like Tina live.

"When I walk in the front door, my door is locked behind me and that is not something I ever did before," said Tina.

After 18 years here, she installed a home alarm.

"I have it on when I'm home," said Tina.

Just like Ann who lives a few blocks away, neither one of them go out after dark.

"I go to church at five o'clock. I'm home by six and I don't go anywhere at night," said Ann.

Ann was one of about 300 women who attended a self-defense class, but even after that she's arming herself inside her own home with a gun. Her son even installed security lights.

"I got kind of scared of walking up to the road to get my paper. You never know somebody might be hiding behind a bush or something," said Ann.

The crimes against the women in Yoakum have changed the tune of this town.

"We suspect that he may be watching them and that he may be stalking them," said Chief Arthur Rogers of the Yoakum Police Department.

Yoakum isn't alone. At least thirteen sexual assaults and robberies have been linked by DNA evidence to the same suspect spanning 150 miles, but so far the attacker's DNA has not matched any profiles in the statewide database.

"But that doesn't preclude him from being in a system in another state," said Chief Rogers.

Three of the thirteen robberies and sexual assaults have happened right here in Yoakum. What has made it even more difficult for police is the lack of a good description of the suspect.

"Our attacker could be just about anybody. It could be a neighbor. We just don't know," said Chief Rogers.

The best clue investigators have so far is a wall clock taken from one of the victims. Police hope someone might recognize it.

"I think a lot of people will sleep a whole lot better once we are able to catch this man," said Chief Rogers.

Until then, the women of Yoakum will keep living very guarded lives.

"I guess I just wish everybody would pray that we find him and it doesn't have to happen to anybody else," said Tina.

Most of the attacks have occurred around dawn, so the suspect has been nicknamed the Twilight Rapist. Yoakum is the largest community which the crimes have occurred.

If you have any information on these crimes you are asked to call the Texas Department of Public Safety at 866-786-5972.