Face of a Serial Rapist Has Reno on Edge

One man is suspected in a string of attacks, including a Nev. teen's kidnapping.

ByABC News
February 1, 2008, 8:46 AM

Feb. 1, 2008 — -- Police are now calling the man wanted in the abduction of Brianna Denison, a 19-year-old Reno, Nev., woman who vanished almost two weeks ago, a serial rapist after matching his DNA evidence to at least two other attacks in recent months.

They also released a sketch of a suspect, based on a description from one of four women police say have been targeted in a string of attacks that all occured on or near the University of Nevada-Reno campus.

"We've been calling him a serial rapist," Lt. Robert McDonald, a spokesman for the Reno Police Department, told ABC News. "It is what it is. You've got a guy here in four instances and all he's trying to do is rape young women, all of them in good shape with long hair.

"He certainly has a target group in mind," McDonald said.

The grim portrait of the suspect has emerged after DNA recovered from the scene of Denison's apparent kidnapping was matched to two sex assaults that happened in the same Reno neighborhood, one in November and one in December.

On Jan. 20, the 19-year-old Denison, back in her hometown for winter break from Santa Barbara City College, vanished from a friend's off-campus rental house. Police say she was last seen going to sleep on her friend's couch for the night after they attended a party at a Reno casino.

Authorities released the information tying the three off-campus cases through DNA Thursday night in an attempt to get the public's help and apprehend a man who has left an entire college community spooked and a city on guard.

University police released a composite sketch of a man described by a victim in an October on-campus assault who may be responsible for all four incidents. He is described as a white male, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with light-colored short hair. There is a chance, authorities caution, that the suspect -- or possibly suspects -- in the four cases may not exactly match the artist's rendering. But they also believe that there is enough evidence to link the three DNA cases to the fourth one on the Reno campus.

Police say the time line of DNA and victim accounts can be traced back to an incident at an on-campus parking garage in October. In that case, a student reported being attacked from behind and sexually assaulted on the first floor of a parking garage between two parked cars. It was the only one of the four cases in which the suspect flashed a weapon -- a silver and black handgun.