Los Angeles Police Department investigators have announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect dubbed the “Teardrop Rapist,” who has allegedly committed 35 sexual assaults since 1996.
The suspect commits the assaults between 5 and 8 a.m., and targets women walking alone. The rapes have occurred in an area stretching from Melrose Avenue to the north to Manchester Boulevard to the south, and from Western Avenue to the west and Alameda Street to the east. The case is being investigated by the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, Special Assaults Section. The FBI provided $25,000 for the reward, in addition to $75,000 allocated by the city of Los Angeles.
“We do believe he is still out there. We stopped receiving tips, and we believe the only way to find this guy is with help from the public,” Det. Sharlene Johnson said. “He’s not going away.”
Johnson said victims have reported that the suspect wears clean clothing and is friendly. He generally engages them in conversation, and after gaining their trust, pulls out a weapon and forces them into secluded areas where the sexual assault occurs. He has been armed with a knife or a handgun during different assaults. Johnson said investigators have linked the cases with DNA evidence, but could not be more specific because of the ongoing investigation. The last assault attributed to the suspect occurred in South Los Angeles in 2012.
Many witnesses have reported seeing a teardrop tattoo on the suspect’s face, which are popular among individuals who have served time in prison. Johnson said investigators are trying to downplay the teardrop, however, because some victims have reported it being on the left side of his face, while others reported it was on the right side, or that there was no teardrop tattoo.
“We are actually trying to get away from focusing on the teardrop,” she said. “We’ve had multiple victims tell us he had one, but it is possibly a mole or a scar. If it is a tattoo, he could have had the tattoo removed.”
One of the sexual assaults occurred in the Wilshire Division in 2001, near Normandie Avenue and Clinton Street, just south of Melrose Avenue. Four additional assaults occurred in the Koreatown area. Nearly two dozen other attacks occurred in South Los Angeles and the surrounding areas within the LAPD’s Southwest, Southeast, 77th Street, Rampart and Newton divisions. Three of the incidents were reported in areas in South L.A. under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic man 40 to 55 years old, 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, and 130 to 170 pounds. He has brown eyes and brown hair, and a light complexion. He has been seen wearing a gray or dark-colored hooded sweatshirt. In some instances, he has been seen wearing a bandana, black baseball cap or a dark-colored beanie.
Johnson said authorities have established a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lapdsas where people can provide tips. Information can also be submitted at (877)LAPD247, or emailed to email@example.com. Tips can also be made via www.lapdonline.org, or by texting TIPLA, plus the information, to CRIMES (274637).
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to provide information,” Johnson added. “Hopefully with their help, we will catch this guy.”