Police warn of college serial rapist over holiday break at KU and K-State

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LAWRENCE, KS (KMBC) — It’s been four years since the last cases of serial sexual assaults at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, but there is also no suspect in custody.

That’s why the Riley County Police Department is warning students at KU and K-State who don’t go home for the holidays to be vigilant over the holiday break.

The Riley County Police Department says it continues to search for an alleged serial rapist known to attack over holiday breaks near local college campuses. Police say they have connected the man to 14 incidents in Lawrence and Manhattan over the last 19 years but have yet to identify or catch the suspect.

Riley County police spokeswoman Hali Rowland says the case is still active, but there are no new developments to release.

Lawrence police Sgt. Amy Rhoads says the last update was in 2017, when Lawrence and Riley County pleaded for help catching him. At that time investigators said 14 cases had been connected to the suspect.

There are no new cases and the last sexual assault was in July 2015, but the investigation is still ongoing.

“In March of 2009, then Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced that multiple incidents of rape committed over the course of eight years in both Manhattan and Lawrence appeared to be connected,” a website created by the Lawrence Police Department and the Riley County Police Department said.

“These incidents occurred beginning in October of 2000 and ending in December of 2008, and they involved the victimization of 14 women and ultimately two communities, as all those subjected to these crimes were students of either Kansas State University or the University of Kansas. “

Police said each incident involved a masked intruder entering the victim’s off-campus residence, mostly between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. as the victim slept. All but one of the attacks coincided with a break in the academic calendar. In all but two cases, police said the victim was alone.

While there haven’t been any reported cases in years, KU experts continue to talk with students about what they need to know about prevention.

“Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic solution of do these things or don’t do these things, and you’ll be safe,” said Jen Brockman, the director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center at the University of Kansas. “Really, I encourage people to lean into your gut. Your gut has great brains. Trust it. Trust your instincts. Ask for help and help those around you as well.”

Students are taking precautions.

“If I am nervous, I’ll like call a friend and talk on the phone with them while I walk to my car from the library,” Isabella Nusbaum, sophomore at KU, said. “But usually I just try to stay with someone.”

Some students say they’re relying on technology to help them stay safe.

“We also have a group chat so we can say we know where each other are at, when or when we’re coming home or who is leaving at what time,” KU sophomore Blake Harris said. “So, we have a pretty good idea of where we’re all at and when we’ll be home.”

Police put out a sketch of the suspect in 2017. According to police, the suspect is a white man, estimated to be between 20 and 30 years old at the time of the assaults. Police said the man is between 5 feet, 9 inches and 6 feet tall with a “prominent stomach” and a medium to thick build.

“In the majority of cases of sexual violence, the perpetrator is known to us. It’s a friend, it’s a family member, it’s someone we trusted,” Brockman said.

There is a website dedicated to the investigation from the Riley County and Lawrence police departments.

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