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Suspect in nine Dallas sexual assaults arrested in Louisiana

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 8:33 PM EDT, Tue September 10, 2013
Van Dixson, 38, is suspected in a series of sexual assaults in Dallas.
Van Dixson, 38, is suspected in a series of sexual assaults in Dallas.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Suspect claimed he was anti-crime activist, was nicknamed "Neighborhood Watch"
  • NEW: Warrant says rapist attacked one woman walking two children to transit station in early morning
  • NEW: After criticism of delay in notifying public of rapes, police chief promises explanation Wednesday
  • Van Dixson is linked by DNA to four sexual assaults, suspected in five others

(CNN) -- A man suspected of nine sexual attacks on women in a south Dallas neighborhood was arrested Tuesday in Louisiana, a Dallas police official said.

Maj. Jeff Cotner told reporters that Van Dixson, 38, was taken into custody by marshals from the Middle Louisiana Task Force at a motel near downtown Baton Rouge.

"There was contact between Dixson and individuals here in Dallas and those things ... allowed us to find him," Cotner said at a news conference announcing the arrest.

In recent days, Dallas police have said DNA evidence links Dixson to four cases and they were waiting on samples to tie him to five other sexual assaults.

Police said they believe one person was responsible for nine attacks from June 22 through September 1. On Saturday, an arrest warrant was issued for Dixson.

All the victims were walking between midnight and 6 a.m. when an armed man forced them to nearby secluded areas. The victims were robbed and sexually assaulted.

Victims said the attacker covered his face with a mask or bandanna, CNN affiliate WFAA-TV reported.

Dixson lived in the area where the attacks took place. Neighbors told WFAA he was known by the nickname "Neighborhood Watch" because he said he was on the lookout for crime as he walked through the area.

"He just walks every night, all night," said area resident Billy Washington. "Every time I would look out my window or out my door, he was walking."

One of the warrants against Dixson accuses him of accosting a woman who was walking with two children to a transit station at 5:45 a.m. on August 30. She said the gunman waved a gun at her 9-year-old son and yelled at him to "shut up" when he cried. She agreed to send the children away, and the man then sexually assaulted her, the warrant says.

The rapes for which Dixson is the suspect date back to June 22, but police did not announce they were seeking a serial rapist until September 3, after seven cases were reported. Two city council members questioned why the public was not warned sooner, WFAA reported. Police officials said that after two rapes in late June, including one case in which the victim did not cooperate with police, there were no more assaults until August 20, so no pattern was detected.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said he would provide a "chronology of the entire investigation" at a news conference on Wednesday morning, WFAA reported.

David Simpson contributed to this report.

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