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Police in Virginia, Michigan suspect link in stabbing attacks

By the CNN Wire Staff
Michigan State Police released this composite sketch of the suspect in the Flint-area stabbings, which began in May.
Michigan State Police released this composite sketch of the suspect in the Flint-area stabbings, which began in May.
  • NEW: Police in Ohio say a recent attack in their state could also be linked
  • Authorities say victims' description of the suspect and his vehicle are similar
  • The same individual is believed responsible for 15 attacks in Michigan
  • The attacks began May 24 in the Flint area

(CNN) -- Police in Leesburg, Virginia, and Genesee County, Michigan, suspect three recent attacks in Leesburg are linked to the stabbing deaths of five people and injuries to 10 others in the Flint area.

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton confirmed in a news conference Monday that Michigan authorities have been in contact with police in Virginia, saying "there are some similarities" between the assaults in both states.

Leyton said the Virginia victims' description of the suspect as well as their description of the suspect's vehicle led authorities to make the possible connection.

Elsewhere, police in Toledo, Ohio, said Monday that a stabbing there fits the pattern of the Michigan attacks and could be linked to the same suspect as well.

The suspect is described by Michigan authorities as a white man in his late 20s to early 30s. All of the Michigan victims but one are black, leading authorities to consider a possible racial motive. Two of the three Virginia attacks involved black victims as well, Leyton said.

Video: Task force set to find serial stabber
  • Stabbings
  • Virginia
  • Michigan
  • Crime

Leesburg police told CNN they have established a $5,000 reward for anyone providing information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.

"We have no information at this point to say he's either still here or he has fled," Leesburg Police Chief Joe Price told a news conference. "We are continuing our operations as if he is still here."

Price called the suspect "very desperate and very dangerous."

The FBI is assisting in the investigation, Leesburg and Genesee County officials said.

Leyton said the timing of the attacks in Virginia "is such that it could be the same individual."

The Michigan attacks began May 24. The most recent was August 2.

Previously, only 13 stabbings were believed related in the Flint area.

"We now believe there are 15 stabbings potentially attributed to the same suspect," Leyton announced Monday.

The three attacks in Leesburg occurred August 3, 5 and 6.

The stabbing in Ohio occurred August 7, according to Sgt. Bill Wauford of the Toledo Police Department.

Officials in Michigan say the attacker is believed to be driving a Chevy Blazer or GMC Jimmy, model years 1995-2005, with a two-tone green top over a beige or gold bottom. Virginia authorities provided a similar description: an older model 1995-2000 Chevy S-10 Blazer with a dark green upper and a lighter tan or beige color on the lower panels.

The suspect is described as a stocky, unshaven white man usually wearing a baseball cap.

"We know he is a strong individual," Leyton said, adding that the suspect is "preying on individuals who are alone on the street."

The Michigan victims' ages have ranged from 17 to 60 years old, according to Leyton. All of the victims have been men, and in two cases they were people with special needs.

Price said the Virginia victims "all appear to have been smaller in stature or more of an older age than our suspect -- in other words, people that he thinks he can physically handle."

The suspect is believed to approach victims who are on foot during the early morning hours, asking for directions or other assistance to lure them closer to his car, Leyton said.

The Toledo Police Department's Wauford said the method of attack in the Ohio case matched the Michigan incidents.

The attack occurred Saturday about 7:45 p.m. after a 59-year-old man -- also black -- was taking a smoke break from his job as a church custodian, Wauford said.

"A suspect approached him asking for directions and started stabbing him for no apparent reason," Wauford said, adding that the incident occurred near a major interstate highway.

Authorities were able to speak to the victim for only a short time Saturday night before he was rushed into surgery for a collapsed lung, Wauford said. Police were able to get a description of the suspect's vehicle -- a dark green early '90s Chevy Blazer.

Leyton confirmed Michigan authorities are in touch with police in Toledo, but declined to definitively link that attack, saying "it is very fresh and we just obtained the information."

The five Michigan victims who did not survive the attacks are David Motley on May 24; Emmanuel Dent on June 21; Darwin Marshall on July 26; Frank Kellybrew on July 30; and Arnold Miner on August 2.

CNN's Sarah Aarthun and Terry Frieden contributed to this report.