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Crime & Justice

LA's Teardrop Rapist strikes again, preying on women since 1996 (updated)

A few sketches of what the Teardrop Rapist has been described as from different assaults over the last decade.
A few sketches of what the Teardrop Rapist has been described as from different assaults over the last decade.
Los Angeles Police Department

Police believe the notorious Teardrop Rapist, who has attacked dozens of women in Los Angeles since 1996, has struck yet again.

The man, who has been described to have a teardrop tattoo below one of his eyes, tried to rape a 29-year-old woman on June 15 around 5:30 a.m. near the intersection of 25th Street and Naomi Avenue as the woman walked to her job at a factory. Police say he first tried to strike up a conversation with the woman, then flashed a gun and forced her into an alley — but the man ran away when a vehicle drove into the alley. 

This morning, LAPD officers roamed the neighborhoods of South L.A., the Wilshire area and parts of central L.A. handing out flyers to women warning them of the latest attack.

Thirty-five different sexual assaults cases have been linked to the Teardrop Rapist since 1996 using DNA evidence and motive. Most of the attacks occurred from 1996 to 2003.

Then another happened in 2005, another last November and again this month. Police speculate the suspect may have been in jail at some point, which is why there was a gap in the attacks. Although investigators have DNA samples of the suspect, they haven't been able to match it with inmate records because prior to 2009, only certain crimes required a DNA swab from criminals.

"Majority of the time you may go one year, two years on a case and that's a long time," said LAPD Detective Jesse Alvarado. "But a case that spans this long, it's not only frustrating, it's what it does to women."

Alavardo said this is a difficult case because of the wide area of attacks from Melrose to Manchester to Western to Compton. Police started using a crime analysis computer program in April to focus in on areas the suspect may have ties to based on data collected from the attacks such time of day, location, neighborhoood ethniticity.

Alvardo said the crime analysis program was used in the "Grim Sleeper" murder case that spanned two decades of serial killings. The cops also used what is called a "familial search" where forensic investigators compare the DNA sample of the suspect to other criminal databases and look for a near match to a blood relative.

"We're looking at all avenues possible," Alvarado said. "We are looking at all of the resources available to us and that obvioulsy is one of the resources that is out there."

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man, 40 to 55 years old, brown eyes, brown hair and about 5’6" tall. The most distinct feature he has is the teardrop tattoo below one of his eyes, although police say he may have attempted to remove it.

Police warn women walking, jogging or waiting for buses in the early morning hours because all of the attacks have happened between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Alvarado said most of the victims are young, 14 to 19 years old, short, and often Hispanic.

"He likes him his size," he said. "It's because of control. He's a small individual. He wants to be able to control them, even though he has a weapon, he wants to physically be able to control his victim."

A $50,000 reward is up for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the Teardrop Rapist.

This story has been updated.