ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - A rapist targeting Asian women in northwest St. Louis County is still on the loose. Now, investigators say another possible victim has come forward.
The first two instances happened at the Beau Jardin apartment complex on Sannois Drive in 2011, and the third happened when a woman was walking home along Fee Fee Road in mid-September. Police have connected two of these cases by DNA to one Hispanic male.
On Tuesday evening, St. Louis County Police held a town hall meeting and self defense class at Parkway North High School for concerned neighbors.
St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch explains, “I’ve been doing this 32 years, there’s not a lot of rapes that occur where the suspect and victims don’t know each other, it’s very very rare. And then it’s very rare to have more than one. So we really have raised the alarm. This is something new for us to offer this, as a result of the two offenses that have occurred in this area.”
Janet Dayawon learned about the safety seminar through local Asian organizations, and came for some tips to protect herself. “Well it’s definitely scary, and of course it hits home because I am Asian-American and a woman,” she says, “I just thought, myself, if I were in those women’s shoes, what would I have done at that time?”
Asian-American Olivia Pieknik, who also attended the seminar, has a hunch why women of her ethnicity are targets. She says, “Unfortunately, most of the time criminals target the most vulnerable people. Because of cultural and language barriers, these women would most likely not report the crimes, and also would not be mentioning it to anyone else in the community.”
Police are increasing patrols in the area until the criminal is caught. The suspect is described as a heavyset Hispanic male in his 40s, roughly 5’7, with sideburns and facial hair on his chin.
The seminar’s self defense tips were taught by Midwest Krav Maga instructors. Krav Maga is a type of Israeli military combat. For more information, go to their web site, click here.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
- Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
- Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.
- Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
- Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
- Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
- Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.