Wednesday, April 12, 2000

FBI will try to profile serial rapist in Maine

By DAVID HENCH, Staff Writer -
The Press Herald, Portland, Maine
Copyright 2000 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc

Investigators will meet today with an FBI agent who will try to develop a profile of a serial rapist linked to at least three sexual assaults in southern Maine since last summer.

Police in Portland, South Portland and Old Orchard Beach announced Monday that they have conclusive evidence that rapes being investigated by each department were committed by the same person.

On Tuesday, a forensic scientist in California who profiles serial sex offenders said that the suspect has likely committed other rapes in the area. He also offered some details about the criminal: He is calm, confident and had probably staked out his targets to learn more about them. The forensic scientist also said it is highly likely that the assailant will strike again.

"Serial rapists are more prolific than we think they are,'' said Brent E. Turvey of Knowledge Solutions. "If he's mobile and he's using a con, there's no reason to expect he's confining his activities to one location at all.'' Turvey suggested departments throughout New England be notified of the specifics of the crime.

At first glance, the assaults seem unrelated.

On June 3, a 16-year-old Portland girl had been drinking with a friend when at some point late at night she accepted a ride from a man who bought her alcohol and supplied her with drugs.

Old Orchard Beach police say they were called early the following morning, after the girl was dropped off in the area of West Grand Avenue. She had been sexually assaulted, but police say her recollection of the evening was sketchy and they would provide no additional details.

Nine months later, on Feb. 8, a 50-year-old woman in South Portland was asleep in her home near Evans Street and Broadway when a man broke into the house through a window. The man overpowered her and then raped her.

In Portland, police say the same man knocked on the door of a second-floor apartment in the West End at 3 a.m. on March 3. A 74-year-old woman was alone inside. The man gave a fake name and asked for the woman's daughter.

Told she didn't live there, the man asked to leave her a message. But when the woman opened the door to hand him something to write with, he barged in, punched her and knocked her to the ground before raping her.

"Of those cases we know of, you can see the violence escalating,'' Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood said. "There may be some cases we haven't documented.''

Turvey, the criminal profiler, said it's a good bet there are more victims out there and suggested departments within a 500-mile radius be alerted.

Turvey has consulted with departments across the country on serial rapes and serial murders with sexual aspects. He said even small specifics of each crime are necessary to understand the motivations and methods of a serial rapist.

"You need to get a good statement from the victim, elicit the grim and sordid details of the entire event. You need to make sure they tell you moment by moment, frame by frame, every aspect of that crime,'' he said.

One of the impediments to investigating serial crimes is that not all the important information is gathered from the initial crimes, he said. That's because it does not become apparent until much later that the suspect is a serial criminal.

Some of the criminal's methods and attributes are apparent from at least the last two attacks, for which the most details are available.

Turvey characterized the Portland assault as "a con approach with a blitz attack – a use of sudden overpowering physical force.''

"The offender is not a stupid person. He's calm enough and confident enough to use a ruse when attacking his victim,'' Turvey said.

"Its a pretty safe bet he probably is going to be engaging in some kind of pre-surveillance activity,'' observing his victims to learn more about their movements, Turvey said. The rapist knew details about the Portland woman's family and that the second and third victims were home alone.

"He is willing to break into the home. You're not going to do that unless you know what's on the other side,'' he said.

There are categories to describe a serial rapist's motivations: anger-retaliatory, power-reassurance, power-assertive, sadistic and opportunistic. But many motives can reside in a single offender, Turvey said, which could explain the sharp differences in the crimes.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com