Serial rapist attacks women near campus

Brooke Purves and Brooke Purves

Three increasingly violent incidents of rape along the I-80 corridor in the past five months have caused the American River College community to take pause and assess the safety of its members.

According to Lisa Bowman, Sacramento Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, the latest attack occurred near the intersection of Kohler Road and Auburn Boulevard on Jan. 8 around 4:30 a.m., just over a mile northeast from ARC. That victim was kidnapped and driven to Madison Avenue and I-80 area, where she was raped.

Previous attacks on Sept. 19 at 4:20 a.m. and Dec. 10 at 9:15 p.m. occurred at the Watt Avenue and I-80, and Madison Avenue and I-80 intersections, respectively.

Based on the locations of the assaults and descriptions of the perpetrator given by the victims, Sacramento Sheriff’s Department officials believe the attacks were committed by the same person.

The three victims described the attacker as a black male, 20-40 years old with a large build and short or shaved hair. The suspect is depicted in two of three police sketch artist renderings as wearing rectangular glasses.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department is investigating the cases through public leads and DNA evidence, despite the little evidence left behind by the rapist.

“To date, we have not been able to make an arrest, but we are hoping for test results in our crime lab that might lead us to a potential suspect,” said Bowman.

The attacks happened to women walking alone, in the dark and because many ARC students walk at night to and from their classes, bus stops and places of employment. The Los Rios Police Department and the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office have encouraged students to be especially vigilant in protecting themselves and promoting sexual assault awareness.

“Please continue to encourage students to be aware of their surroundings, walk in pairs, carry their keys in a defensive nature if they must walk alone at night; but most of all, to report anything or anyone suspicious to the Sheriff’s Department as soon as possible,” said Bowman. “We are not naive to the threat this person is to the public.”

ARC has taken notice of the incidents and is trying to inform students about the incidents by posting flyers all throughout campus with sketches of the suspect.

“All criminals look for opportunities,” said Sgt. Mike Olson of the Los Rios Police Department.

Sgt. Olson warned students of the dangers of walking while listening to loud music.

“This goes back to being aware of your surroundings,” said Olson. “Many thefts and attacks occur when victims are listening to loud music in both ears and are not aware that someone is near them.”

Anyone on the ARC campus needing emergency assistance can call 911 or (916) 558-2221 from a cellphone. It is important the caller identify that he or she is on campus.

Blue campus emergency phones can also be used for reporting emergencies.

The LRPD holds free sexual assault workshops each semester, the details of which will be available on The Current website as soon as they are available.