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Miami police link 4 rapes to serial rapist

Police fear possible 'latchkey rapist'

A police sketch depicts a man suspected in at least four rapes in Miami.
A police sketch depicts a man suspected in at least four rapes in Miami.

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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- DNA evidence links a serial rapist to four Miami rapes, and two more attacks are probably connected, police said Wednesday.

The suspect, whom police said spoke to his victims in Spanish, is described as having an accent that is either Mexican, Honduran or Nicaraguan.

Police said the attacker wore the same piece of jewelry and the same article of clothing in some of the incidents. Miami Police Deputy Chief Frank Fernandez said his department will release details of the items Thursday.

DNA evidence has linked the man to the sexual assaults of two girls and two women in a Miami neighborhood in recent months.

On May 15 a 13-year-old girl was attacked and on June 2 an 11-year-old girl was attacked. Both children were home alone after returning from school.

The attacks all happened in Shenandoah, a neighborhood in southwest Miami.

DNA evidence links the same man to the sexual battery of a 21-year-old woman and a 55-year-old woman in September and December.

Police said they consider two other attacks "probable." One was reported Monday on a 12-year-old girl who also was home alone after school -- police await the results from DNA testing in that case -- and the other happened to a 79-year-old woman May 23, police officials said.

There is no DNA evidence available from the attack on the elderly woman, police said, but they call the link probable because of other evidence, which they did not describe.

"One of the things the last victim said to us is that he [the attacker] had extreme, extreme acne scars -- pockmarks in his face," Detective Delrish Moss told CNN's Live From the Headlines. "From the accent, they're saying that he's probably Mexican or Nicaraguan."

Parents were warned Monday to keep close watch on their "latchkey" children.

Wednesday was the last day of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools academic year, meaning some children may be home alone all day in coming weeks.

In the after-school attacks, the suspect grabbed the first girl in her back yard and forced his way in when the second youngster opened her door, Miami police said. In the "probable" after-school incident, the man was already in the house when the child arrived home, they said.

Fernandez said he did not want to detail the attacker's method of operation. He said the man is a burglar and has used several ways to gain entrance into his victims' homes.

The three attacks have spawned three sketches of the suspect, and police say there are "definite similarities" among them.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon announcing the additional DNA links, Fernandez asked all Miami residents to be careful. Then, pointing at the television cameras, he added a message for the attacker.

"We're going to catch you," Fernandez said.

CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.


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