Police say scare is over
Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 24, 1996

POLICE: Police say scare is over

Suspect may have been responsible for other attacks

Palo Alto Police Chief Chris Durkin announced last Thursday that the arrest of Romel Demetrias Reid closes out the search for the Peninsula serial rapist.

"Today, we're here to sound the all clear," Durkin said at a news conference surrounded by other police chiefs and state and FBI agents who helped the multi-city task force that had searched for Reid.

"We want the public to know that the Romel Reid reign of terror is over," Durkin said.

Reid, 25, of East Palo Alto, has been charged with 17 felonies, including six counts of rape and kidnapping. He is also believed by police to be responsible for two rapes in Menlo Park, but San Mateo County is holding off on charging Reid in those cases until the Santa Clara County cases are prosecuted.

Durkin also said that police theorize that Reid may be responsible for other attacks, possibly in other communities, which have either not been reported or not yet linked to him. After a series of sexual assaults in early September, there was a two-month gap in any of the crimes allegedly committed by Reid.

"We're glad he is in custody, and we think the surrounding communities are a better place as a result," Durkin added.

Police have declined all along to talk about any evidence against Reid. Durkin explained that officers are under instructions from the district attorney to not talk about evidence for fear of affecting the prosecution of Reid or tainting later jury selection.

Reid is being held in lieu of $10 million bail and his next court appearance will be Feb. 2 in San Jose. Durkin said that Reid, sent to prison twice before for felony convictions, may be a candidate for the state's "three-strike" law, where three-time felons are sentenced to life in prison.

Durkin also thanked the press for its cooperation during the efforts to catch the rapist. "We'll never know how many assaults you helped us prevent just by getting the word out to women in the various communities," he said.

Durkin added that the cooperation between some 16 police agencies, including the FBI and state Department of of Justice, along with local police departments, was the best he had ever seen in his 20 years as an officer.

"We always felt he would be caught by good, old-fashioned police work where somebody sees something and plays the hunch," Durkin said.

That old fashioned police work happened at 7 a.m. Jan. 13 when Palo Alto Officer Tom Pohl saw a white van the Mountain View police had been searching for after a 2 a.m. attempted sexual assault. Pohl, who joined the force less than a year ago, gave chase. The van later stopped in East Palo Alto and was recovered by police.

Police say they think Reid was driving the van, although the van's driver managed to elude police during an all-day manhunt featuring seven police dogs and a bloodhound. According to police reports, evidence found in the van included a sweatshirt belonging to one victim and Reid's personal identification papers. He was arrested at his girlfriend's Sunnyvale apartment Jan. 15.

Reid is suspected of raping seven women beginning Aug. 21 including two in Menlo Park, three in Palo Alto, and one each in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

--Don Kazak

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