Crime

Woman sexually assaulted in Miami Beach escapes, scares intruder away

Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak Jr., at the lectern, along with colleagues from Miami Beach, Miami, Coral Gables and Miami-Dade, releases details on a serial stalker.
Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak Jr., at the lectern, along with colleagues from Miami Beach, Miami, Coral Gables and Miami-Dade, releases details on a serial stalker. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A woman was sexually assaulted in Miami Beach early Sunday morning, according to police, in a fashion with some similarities to a rash of unsolved attacks by a serial stalker in South Florida three years ago.

But there were enough differences that law enforcement played down a possible connection to a notorious assailant dubbed “The Creeper.” Police believe that still-unidentified stalker sexually assaulted dozens of women in Miami, Coral Gables and Miami Beach.

Like The Creeper, this suspect also broke into a home through an unlocked window before sunrise. But unlike the previous attacks, this man raised his voice in anger and also stole money and an electronic device.

“We can’t say [it’s not the same person] with 100 percent certainty,” said Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez. “However the MO [modus operandi] is vastly different. Right now, there aren’t any direct links.”

Police, who only identified the victim in the Sunday morning attack as a white female, said she was sleeping on her couch in her apartment on 83rd Street in North Beach when she was awakened at 6 a.m. Sunday. The intruder touched her crotch and held his penis, yelling at her to look at it.

She told police she pushed the man out away and ran out of the apartment. He left when the woman yelled she was calling police. The woman had locked all the doors and windows in her apartment except for her bedroom window. The suspect stole $52 and the woman’s iPad.

Police only described him as a white male between 20 and 25 years old, about five-feet, eight inches tall and 160 pounds. He was wearing a dark, unzipped hoodie with no shirt and blue jeans..

Police never captured the man they dubbed “The Creeper,” who they determined using DNA evidence broke into 50 or more homes and assaulted several women during a two-year spree that ended in September 2015. He never used forced entry and in most cases just stood over his victims, many who worked late-night jobs, until they woke up. Then he’d flee.

Police believe the man studied his victims’ routines before his attacks. They were all between 22 and 64 years of age all lived in first-floor apartments. In several cases, he told his victims he had a knife then sexually assaulted them. He never stole anything and he always wore dark clothing, a hat and gloves.

Police were so desperate to apprehend “The Creeper” that they used a new technology that used DNA to replicate possible likeness to help identify him. Though it couldn’t determine his age, the technology is alleged to have proved a 99 percent likelihood that he’s dark or olive-skinned, an 87.5 percent chance he has brown or hazel eyes and a 97 percent certainty that he has black hair.

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