Police say rapist preying on Skid Row women

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Authorities said there have been two attacks in as many weeks. Both women accepted rides from a man in a brown van.

Police said the suspect, described as middle-aged and balding, picked up the latest victim on Aug. 10 at 6th Street and Towne Avenue.

According to police, the man drove her to a McDonald's restaurant at 7th and Alameda streets, and then violently attacked her. The suspect then drove the woman to a business park in Alhambra, bound and gagged her, then raped her.

"While in the back of the van, this man tied the woman up with duct tape," said Lt. Paul Vernon of the /*Los Angeles Police Department*/. "He raped her in the back of the van, the dragged her out of the van toward a trash dumpster at this business park, then physically, literally picked her up and threw her into the trash can still bound with the duct tape."

The woman was able to make enough noise to get someone to help her.

Detectives said the attack is similar to one last week in which the suspect picked up a 37-year-old transient at 6th Street and Stanford Avenue on Aug. 1.

"In that incident, the woman was left off in Koreatown, and that victim was quite uncooperative with us," Vernon said. "Both women were picked up within one or two blocks of their locations."

The attacks have hit home for some women living on Skid Row.

"It's scary," said Cherry Lindsey. "It's absolutely heartbreaking. Things hit home all the time."

"At night I try not to come out here because it's so very frightening," added Denise Haley. "I'm very frightened about this person."

The van is described as an Econoline-looking model with horizontal stripes on the side.

"These kinds of incidents are so rare," Vernon said. "It's reminiscent of the Hillside Strangler-type cases where you have men picking up strange women and dumping their bodies. Thankfully, in this case, we have our victims who can still speak and give us information and help us."

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

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