Cops and Community Hunt Possible Serial Killer

Houston police and local community leaders are asking for the public's help as they try to track-down what could be a serial killer preying on women in a neighborhood on the city's north side. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Police say six similar murders have all taken place since January, with the victim's bodies, all women, left in areas in and around the Acres Homes subdivision. The latest victim, a 21-year old woman from the Third Ward, was discovered on Wednesday behind a bar. Houston city councilman Jarvis Johnson says the community has to stand up against the killer or killers.

"We want to send a message to this particular perpetrator that we will not tolerate this behavior in our community. This is our home. This is where we live and we should feel safe in our own community. But the only way that we should feel safe is by coming together to walk these streets to find out who this person is."

Houston police have set-up a mobile command center in the neighborhood and have questioned dozens of suspects. Assistant chief Vicki King says some of the attacker's victims have survived and described encounters with what appears to be a nice man.

"When the woman engages this particular man, he is very charming, he is very nice, he is very approachable and very solicitous. The surviving victims have all described that he becomes a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At some point during their encounter he will turn, he will threaten them with a weapon, usually a knife, and either sexually assault them and or rob them."

Authorities say they haven't ruled out that the murders are the work of multiple suspects, but say evidence suggests that it could be a lone killer. Houston Crimestopers has increased its reward money for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect to $20,000. This is Crimestoppers Ray Wathen.

"Do yourself, do your community a favor. It could be someone you love, it could be you as the next victim if you sit back and don't do anything. This is a call for action. All your action has to be is getting on the phone and calling 713-222-8477."

Investigators say all of the victims have either been drug addicts or prostitutes, something that State Representative Sylvester Turner says shouldn't affect the investigation.

"No one need assume that just because these bodies are found in Acres Homes and these women may have questionable lives, that this perpetrator will not show up in your neighborhood if he's not caught."

Police say at least one suspect in previous attacks has a distinctive tattoo on his left forearm, possibly a scales of justice design, and is described as a dark-complected African-American male.

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