Retail rapist strikes again - some at-risk businesses still disarm employees

July 2, 2004
Dayton Daily News

Clerks working alone targeted

The FBI has linked a March 5 rape and robbery at Southtown Shopping Center in Miami Twp. through forensic evidence to five of nine similar cases in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Officials believe the same suspect is attacking female clerks working in businesses at shopping centers near interstates.

Another Miami Valley attack — at a Jeffersonville Outlet Mall in January — has also been linked to the nine cases, four of which happened in Ohio.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

On Thursday, the FBI held a press conference in Fort Wright, Ky., linking the Miami Twp. case and providing the latest police composite of the suspect. Bill O'Leary, resident agent in charge of the FBI in Covington, Ky., said the suspect appears to know the tri-state well and seems to frequent the area in winter months.

O'Leary said the suspect is well-spoken and often well-dressed. He has a professional demeanor and is described as a 5-foot-6 to 6-foot, 30- to 40-year-old male of medium to stocky build, with short to medium length dark brown hair and distinctive blue eyes.

The man attacks females working alone in businesses in strip malls, sexually assaulting them using a small silver firearm, O'Leary said. "His motivation is sexual assault. It's the assault and then the robbery," he said.

On March 5, the suspect entered the Authorized Cellular & Paging, located in the Southtown Shopping Center next to Kmart at 2138 Miamisburg-Centerville Road at 7:30 p.m., near closing time. The clerk came out of the back restroom to find a gun pointed in her face. The man tied her up with duct tape, raped her, then took about $200 dollars from the register, a police report said.

Major John DiPietro, deputy chief for the Miami Twp. Police Department, said the evidence "fits in with some sort of a serial rapist." By having the departments share information, "the chances of solving this have improved dramatically," he said.

The Jeffersonville incident involved an attempted robbery and rape at 11:45 a.m. on Jan. 28 at the Van Heusen store at the Factory Outlets Mall near U.S. 35 and I-71, according to Fayette County Sheriff's Inspector Larry Walker.

Police said the suspect usually targets stores with just one clerk, but there were two clerks in Van Heusen store, Walker said. They couldn't find the key to the register so the man didn't get any money. He tied them up with duct tape, but a delivery man arrived and the suspect fled, he said.

The small firearm and the man's description matched the other crimes, Walker said.

The first linked case, a sexual assault and robbery, occurred at Shoe World in Hamilton County, in February 1992. Covington, Ky., had a sexual assault case in February 1999. The General Nutrition store in Grove City had a sexual assault and robbery in November 2003, and the next six occurred in 2004, with the Miami Twp. case the most recent. Shoe stores, a sporting goods store, a Subway restaurant and a dry cleaner have been hit.

Anyone with information is asked to call 434-TIPS locally, or the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Crimestoppers at (513) 352-3040. You can also call the Joint Agency Investigation Tip Line at (859) 334-3500 or the FBI at (859) 341-3901, or visit

"This is very infrequent for our township to be investigating a case like this," DiPietro said. "It was very daring of a perpetrator to do something in that type of a set-up with so many people moving around who could see him. It had to be well thought out and well planned."

Investigators say the crimes are "well thought out and well planned." Yet gun ban extremists, anti-gun newspaper editorialists, and the like often claim that criminals aren't smart enough to do a bit of homework, such as reading the newspaper to find a shopping list of CHL-holders, or noting which stores post "no-guns" signs to render customers and employees defenseless.

Click here to read about two criminals who staked out Fifth Third bank in downtown Toledo, observing couriers who were loading their cars with what the criminals believed was cash.

Click here to read about how a 32-year-old woman who collects money from newspaper vendors was raped and robbed four times on her route over the last year.

More and more businesses are realizing that they have nothing to fear from concealed handgun license-holders in Ohio, and are removing their discriminatory "no-guns" signs.

Yet a small percentage of Ohio businesses still seem to fear law-abiding Ohioans more than they fear violent attacks on employees and customers. Think about this the next time you notice a "no-guns" sign at a business. Trust us, criminals do.

Related Stories:
Mall struck by 'Retail Rapist'; later posts signs disarming employees/customers

''Retail Rapist'' sought in greater Cincinnati

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