Riley County and Lawrence police issued a plea to the public for information on a serial rape suspect in 14 rapes or attempted rapes since 2000 near the Kansas State and University of Kansas campuses.
At a joint news conference Thursday in Manhattan, the home of K-State, they said they believed an attempted rape near the campus that took place two years ago was linked to the suspect.
All of the assaults occurred off-campus. The victims were all college students.
The suspect has been described as a white man from 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet in height and weighing from 160 to 220 pounds.
Police at the news conference said he was at least 33 years old at the time of the attempted rape in Manhattan in 2015. They described him as having “a prominent stomach.”
The 2015 incident took place in the 1400 block of Watson Place in Manhattan. Police said they had concluded there was a “high probability” the assailant was the same one as in the other cases.
“While we continue to work through leads in these complex cases, we are also asking for the public’s assistance,” Interim Lawrence Police Chief Anthony Brixius said.
Brixius said that it was likely that someone had “witnessed something or has a piece of information that could help us bring this suspect to justice.”
In March 2009, then-Kansas Attorney General Steve Six said that the rapes in Manhattan and Lawrence appeared to be connected. The Riley County and Lawrence police departments said their joint investigation “ultimately established a number of similarities, and a lack of significant dissimilarities” in the incidents.
In a news release, they said each incident involved a masked intruder entering the victim’s off-campus residence between 2 and 4:30 in the morning. All except one of the incidents took place during a break in the academic calendar.
“Many of the survivors reported having locked their door(s), yet there were no signs of forced entry,” according to the release. “There were also indications that the survivors were surveilled by the assailant prior the incident. In all but two cases, the victim was alone.”
In most cases, the intruder threatened the women with a handgun. The release said the assailant acted in a “cold, calm, calculated manner.”
Police said they wanted to know if there were similar, unreported incidents between the last previously reported incident in December 2008 and the latest one two years ago.
They said they were working on a number of leads but could not discuss them for fear of jeopardizing their investigation.
An anonymous local donor has offered $10,000 as a reward for information leading to an arrest.
Here are numbers you can call if you have a tip:
Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers at 785-539-7777 or toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). SMS Text tips are also accepted by sending a text to “CRIMES” (274637) and starting the body of your message with “TIP353.” Webtips are also accepted by visiting Manhattan Riley County Crime Stoppers online or www.RileyCountyPolice.org. Individuals can also download the TipSubmit mobile app for both iPhone and Android operating systems and submit anonymous tips via the app.
Correction: An earlier version of the story said police had linked 15 rapes and attempted rapes to the same suspect. The story has been revised to reflect the correct number, 14.
Bryan Thompson is a reporter for KCUR 89.3 and the Kansas News Service, specializing in rural health and agriculture. He is based in Salina.
Dan Margolies is KCUR’s health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.