by Don Kazak
The psychological profile released earlier this week of the Peninsula serial rapist includes some details that police want to emphasize, especially that the man has the potential to become very violent, even to family members or friends. Palo Alto officer Lori Kratzer said the profile was put together by Mike Prodan, an investigator for the state Department of Justice, working with Mary Ellen O'Toole of the FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes.
At a press conference on Monday, Prodan said the profile was based on all the police interviews with the man's five rape victims, "a questionnaire we provide the victims if they are able to fill it out, and laboratory analysis."
The profile is generally based on the "verbal, sexual and physical behavior of the offender," he said. The projection for possible violence, in turn, "is based on our experience, our training, research done by the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes, our own research and research adapted from the clinical research from the mental health field involving individuals who commit sex offenses."
The statement released by investigators read, in part:
"Investigators want to impress upon the public that this offender has already demonstrated his ability to be violent. Until he is apprehended, he continues to pose a danger, not only to potential victims, but to friends and family members as well. The reason for this is that under the right set of circumstances and 'life stressors,' it is possible this offender could strike out, unpredictably, against someone he knows."
Prodan added, "What we know from the research and the interviews we've done with sex offenders is that usually a significant stressor occurs" to set off the chain of attacks. "Unfortunately, we don't know what that stressor is."
Prodan also explained what several police officers have speculated on privately, that the man may be a prior sexual offender.
"These people don't just wake up one morning and say, 'Today, I'm a rapist.' They either have a history of sex offenses or, at the very least, they've been fantasizing and thinking about attacking women for a period of time," said Prodan.
The psychological profile also indicated that the man may be living alone, or be in a significant relationship upon which he is financially dependent. He apparently is able to come and go with freedom except after 11 p.m., and that family and friends may not have any idea that he is committing these attacks.
"In fact," the statement read, "they may describe him as someone who is polite, and notably respectful of women older than he is."
Police believe that he has strong ties to the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area and, even if he has temporarily left because of all the publicity about the attacks, that he will return. Police also believe he will attack again.
Police have disclosed little detailed information about the attacks or the victims, for investigation reasons, but the victims have ranged in age from 16 to 57. The one point in common is that all were walking or jogging alone. Two were kidnapped in the suspect's van and driven somewhere else to be assaulted.
"Contrary to the belief that women are chosen because of what they wear, how they appear--long hair, blue eyes--our information is that most of these individuals choose a target . . . based on age and racial preferences, and then the biggee is, 'Can I get away with it? Is it safe for me to attack at this moment?'" said Prodan.
Police also believe that the older, American, white or light-colored van used in the attacks has become a liability for the rapist, Kratzer said. "That's real important," she said.
The van may be hidden somewhere, out of sight, and he may be telling friends that it is disabled. That's something else that may help a friend or co-worker identify the rapist to police, Kratzer said.
The police tip line is 329-2307. Police have received more than 400 calls on the line so far. The cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Sunnyvale are also offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the rapist.
He is described as a 5-10 to 6-0 tall black male, late teens to early 20s, with a medium build and a dark skin tone.
Palo Alto Police Chief Chris Durkin acknowledged how frightened local women are. "I know the women in this community and the surrounding communities are angry about this because they are probably feeling held hostage to some degree," he said. "I want to assure them that we are doing everything possible that we can to apprehend this guy."
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