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Miami Searches for Serial Rapist

Date: June 25, 2003

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MIAMI -- City officials have joined forces with a media company to unveil hundreds of poster panels with the composite sketch of a man who has raped at least seven women, three of them preteen girls, in the Little Havana neighborhood.

 

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz initiated the campaign by contacting executives at Clear Channel Outdoor last week. The media company agreed to post up 10 billboards measuring 14-by-48 feet, 100 bus-shelter displays and 100 poster panels up for two months throughout the city.

 

Three billboards put up so far show a composite sketch of the serial rapist, including pictures of jewelry and a flashy shirt the man was wearing during one of the attacks. It also features the $20,000 reward, which was doubled last week with the help of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

 

The rapist, who stalks his victims during daylight hours, has been connected to seven rapes since September 2002. His victims range in age from 11 to 79 years old. Six of the cases have been linked by DNA evidence.

 

Diaz added that he's trying to plan other methods with private and public sectors, including the use of existing database mailings to get the word out.

 

But Diaz said he insists that it is someone who knows or has seen the man who will provide the lead that police need.

 

"We can use the greatest investigative techniques employed, but at the end of the day, it's someone from the community who will probably give us the tip we need," Diaz said.

 

Miami spokesman Delrish Moss said he has never seen a billboard used to help fight crime.

 

On a national scale, Miami police received assistance with their manhunt when sketches of the rapist were featured on America's Most Wanted last weekend.

 

After interviewing one of the victims for its June 21 episode, the TV show America's Most Wanted used FACES, a software program, to create a 3D, color rendering of the victim's description, Moss said. The sketch produced for the show, however, was met with dissatisfaction from Miami police.

 

Miami Police officers saw the sketch before it aired Saturday but decided not to use it after conferring with the other victims, all of whom decided that the original black-and-white composites were closer depictions of the assailant, Moss said.

 

"We let them know we preferred it didn't go out," Police Chief John Timoney said.

  

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Orlando Sentinel

 

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