Houston & Peach

Authorities: Fort Valley rapist strikes again

FORT VALLEY -- A man wanted for breaking in to homes and raping women has attacked again, authorities say.

A task force, which formed after five break-ins in which two women were raped earlier this month, met Tuesday to discuss the new developments.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said there had been no additional incidents for three weeks. Then suddenly there were seven break-ins between Sunday and Tuesday, including a rape early Tuesday and an attempted rape early Sunday.

All of the incidents were within walking distance and near Fort Valley State University.

The approach is similar, and the suspect description is the same, Deese said.

Several of the victims have woken up to find the suspect in their residences. He is wearing dark clothing, and his face is covered with a dark-colored bandanna. He takes nothing.

“The only thing they can see is his eyes,” Deese said.

In three of five break-ins Monday, the suspect fled for unknown reasons. In two of those, a man was also in the residences, and that may have scared the suspect off.

Deese said he thinks the intent of the break-ins is not burglary but sexual assault. He advised the public to be vigilant and on the alert.

“This predator is still walking around among us,” Deese said.

The suspect was described as a black man, standing 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 130 to 150 pounds.

J.T. Ricketson, special agent in charge of the GBI office in Perry, said the task force has pulled older cases to see if there are any possible connections.

“We’re asking them to bring anything to the table that’s similar to this,” Ricketson said.

The GBI has an investigator and a crime scene analyst assigned to the case, he said.

The task force met with the GBI for several hours at the sheriff’s office behind closed doors, working through lunch and recessing midafternoon. Peach County sheriff’s investigators, Fort Valley and Byron police detectives and Fort Valley State campus police comprise the task force.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.