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DNA tests link rapes to one man

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The victims, who ranged in age from 9 to a 26-year-old Bronx woman, all described a similar method of deception by a man who often claims he is a plumber checking for leaks.

After forcing his way into their homes, he raped them at knifepoint but in two of the cases, he choked the victims unconscious, police said.

Queens Detective Deputy Chief Joseph Reznick said that through DNA recovered at the scene, the police have linked the six assaults to the same man. Reznick said last week that between March 1997 and Sept. 25 three victims in the Bronx and three in Queens reported similar incidents.

One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Monday posted a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man. The announcement came just two days after police offered a $2,000 reward for information as well.

The most recent incident occurred last month when the man tricked an 11-year-old girl into letting him into her Astoria apartment.

The man followed the young girl into her building about 2:45 p.m. Sept. 25 and watched which apartment she entered, said Officer Chris Cottingham, a police spokesman.

He knocked on the door and identified himself as a plumber. When the girl opened the door, he pushed his way into the apartment and sexually assaulted and sodomized the girl, holding a knife to her throat. After raping her, he fled the scene, police said.

The girl, who was not identified because of her age and the nature of the crime, was later taken to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition.

In the first incident, according to Reznick, a 26-year-old Bronx woman answered the door of her apartment to a man claiming he was an assistant to the super who needed to fix a leak. Once inside the apartment, he choked the victim unconscious and when she awoke, he was raping her.

On May 19, 1999, a man using the same operating method followed a 9-year-old girl into her building in Jackson Heights about 3:30 p.m., and knocked on her apartment door, saying he was checking for water leaks, said Cottingham. He then forced his way into the apartment and removed a knife from the kitchen. Holding the knife to her throat, he proceeded to rape and sodomize the girl, then fled, police said.

On Dec. 10, 1999 a 12-year-old girl was followed from her school to her home in Ozone Park and after forcing his way into her house, he ordered her to remain silent as he sodomized and raped her, police said.

Exactly two months later, a 16-year-old Bronx girl answered the door and found a man who claimed he was there to check a leak. After being turned away at the door, he returned and forced his way into her apartment, grabbed a knife, and choked her unconscious, authorities said.

On June 3 a 17-year-old girl in the Bronx was awakened inside the bedroom of her apartment by a man claiming he had lost his keys and needed to get into his apartment on the second floor. He then grabbed the victim, choked her unconscious and raped her, according to police.

The victims describe the rapist as a light-skinned Hispanic man between the ages of 20 and 30, with short black hair and a thin beard. He stands approximately 5-foot-10 and weighs between 160 and 180 pounds.

The investigation is being handled by the Queens Special Victims Unit, said Cottingham. Anyone with information can call 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls are confidential.

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