April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and detectives with Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit are working to clear several cases
A focus for one of the active investigations is the assailant police have dubbed the “doo-rag rapist.” He is accused of assaulting nearly a dozen women over the course of one year, seven years ago. Victims said his face was covered each time and he wore a doo rag. The rapes occurred at night at various apartment complexes between June 2009 and July 2010. Detectives worked with the victims to compose a sketch of the suspect. He was described as in his 20s at the time. He stood 5’9” to 6’ tall, weighing between 160 and 200 pounds. The same suspect’s DNA was recovered at several of the crime scenes.
“The doo rag rapist is tied to at least eleven attacks,” said Police Lt. John Somerindyke, but detectives have not been able to identify him. Many states, including North Carolina, now take DNA samples of suspects accused of major crimes for identification purposes.
This subject’s DNA is not in the data base. Authorities said the attacks took place in Fayetteville and the Hope Mills area. None of the victims suffered any other injuries. Somerindyke said the perpetrator apparently stalked the women before forcing his way into their apartments and overpowering them. He knew they were alone at the time. Two of the victims told police he smelled strongly of cigarettes. At least one said she thought he was intoxicated.
Most of the victims no longer live in Fayetteville, police said. “Victims of rape never get over the trauma of being assaulted, and are always looking over their shoulders,” said Somerindyke.
Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County provides companions to victims of rape. They are on call 24/7 for hospital and courtroom companionship. The organization provides victim advocacy and community networking, and conducts support group meetings throughout the year, according to its website. Detectives were awarded a federal grant to step up their investigations of cold cases that remain unsolved. They’ve identified hundreds of dated cases as far back as the 1980s. Lt. Somerendyke said older sexual assault cases are among the most difficult crimes to solve.
Technology, additional funding and the addition of private laboratories to augment the State SBI Lab have expedited investigations. Since the cold case unit’s formation less than three years ago, 17 perpetrators have been arrested in 21 rape cases. Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact the lead investigator, Detective John Benazzi, or phone CrimeStoppers at (910) 483-TIPS. Information can also be submitted to CrimeStoppers online at http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to 274637. In the text box type “4Tip,” followed by the message.