Columbia, Mo police hunt for serial attacker

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Police in Columbia, Mo. are searching for a serial sexual predator who appears to be getting more and more dangerous with each attack.

All of the victims are students at the University of Missouri, Columbia and all of them live off campus.

The attacks began this past summer and while he terrorized nine women, Columbia police Sgt. Joe Bernhard said the suspect became more bold with each incident. According to police reports, the most violent attack occurred at the Brookside Apartments on Locust in October where the suspect held a young woman at knife point, and raped her.

"He'll victimize more people if we don't catch him," said Sgt. Bernhard.

The first recorded attack happened in June. The suspect entered an unlocked door at 1318 Anthony St. When the victim saw him and screamed, he fled.

Another similar incident occurred in July and when the victim woke up and saw him with his pants down, she screamed. Again, he fled.

LINK:Police report about the off-campus burglaries

Five days later, at 1221 E. Walnut, he once again entered an unlocked door. The victim woke up sometime before 4 a.m. and realized the suspect was nude in her bed. She screamed and he took off.

More incidents followed. On Oct. 20 he entered an unlocked door at the apartment complex located at 1406 Anthony Street. Police say he jumped on top of the victim and ordered her to be quiet. She screamed and he punched her multiple times in the chest before leaving.

Six days later, on homecoming weekend, police say he entered an unlocked door at the Brookside Apartments, threatened the victim with a knife, and raped her.

"He was ramping up a little bit becoming more and more bold each time," said Sgt. Bernhard.

Police believe they almost caught him. They shared dash cam video of who they think is the suspect wiping out on his bicycle but ultimately getting away.

Knowing he is still out there scares students like Catie Chappell, who is a senior this year.

"I was kind of terrified especially being so close to where I live," said Chappell.

In every incident, the suspect got into the apartment because the front door was unlocked. Columbia police have spent a lot of time reminding students who live off campus to stay alert and vigilant.

It's a message that is being heard.

"We lock all of our doors all the time. We close our windows every night, we even installed a security system," said Chappell.

In the meantime, the search for a serial predator continues.

If you know of other similar incidents the Columbia Police Department wants to hear from you. Call them at 573-442-6131, or report a tip online.


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