Police prepare sketch of suspect in impersonator rape cases - KMSP-TV

Police prepare sketch of suspect in impersonator rape cases

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  • Police prepare sketch of suspect in impersonator rape casesMore>>

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The search continues for a suspected serial rapist after two similar reports of sexual assault were filed in just over 12 hours this weekend, and as tips start to emerge, police are preparing a sketch.

In both cases, the suspect, who looked and acted like a police officer, appeared in a black SUV. In Fridley, the man approached a woman walking to her car near City Hall on Saturday afternoon, identified himself as a police officer, kidnapped her, and then sexually assaulted her. Hours later, a University of Minnesota student was abducted by a man who was wearing a badge and had warned her against walking home alone. Both women were driven to remote locations, sexually assaulted and then released.

Investigators confirm they believe the cases are linked, and detectives from Minneapolis and Anoka County are working to identify the man.

News of the assaults has students at the University of Minnesota on edge, and it has some students jogging their memories for tips.

"I saw an SUV -- a black SUV -- unmarked, nothing on it. No cop car or anything, wasn't security," Rochelle Merrifield said.

Merrifield only wanted to speak with Fox 9 News by phone, but she believes what she saw while walking to a bus on the West Bank could be relevant to the search -- a black SUV and a man in a security-type uniform that made her nervous.

"I just kind of glanced at him real quick, and I was taking a wide berth of him," she recalled. "Then, he just looked at me and got in the front seat, and I noticed he was wearing a cop uniform -- like, black pants, black jacket."

One of the most distinguishing features in the suspect description provided by both victims was their attacker's facial hair.

"I remember the thing that stuck out about the beard, because he had one of those chin-strap beard things," she said.

While Merrifield isn't sure whether it could be the same man, but if the description fits, she hopes there is some security video that could help police identify him.

"I even thought of taking a picture of it because it was so weird, but my phone was dead," she said. "I really just didn't want to get a rise out of him or whatever. He seemed as sketched out by me as I was of him, so I thought, 'That was kind of weird.'"

SUSPECT DETAILS

The suspect description in both cases are remarkably similar, describing a black man with a thin beard driving a smaller, dark SUV, standing about 6 feet tall with a medium build. The Fridley victim estimated his weight at 190 pounds.

The student victim estimated the suspect's age as between 23 and 27, and said his hair was either cropped short or shaven. The Fridley victim reported her attacker was wearing a dark cap at the time of her assault.

In Fridley, the suspect was seen wearing a dark sweatshirt, dark sunglasses and blue jeans as well as the hat. The student reported her attacker wore a dark jacket with a badge on it, dark pants and a security- or police-style duty belt.

The suspect's vehicle is also reported to have a dark interior and a computer screen in the center console.

PROVIDE A TIP

Anyone who witnesses any suspicious activity in progress should call 911 immediately and share a detailed description to the dispatcher.Those who have information on a potential sighting or suspect identification information are urged to call one or all of the following agencies:

- Anoka County Sheriff's Office at 763-427-1212

- Minneapolis Police Department at 612-692-8477 referencing case number
   MP-13-391636

Tips can also be submitted to the Minneapolis Police Department anonymously by sending a text message via the department's Tip 411 app, which is free for iPhone and Android devices.

HOW TO CONFIRM A COP'S IDENTITY

Both the Minneapolis Police Department and the Anoka County Sheriff's Office stress that anyone who wishes to confirm an officer's identity can do so at any time by calling 911 and asking a dispatcher to do one or both of the following:

- Verify the officer's identity immediately over the phone

- Ask dispatch to send a uniformed officer

Any real police officer will identify the name of the law enforcement agency they work for and will carry both a badge and identification credentials. Members of the public may ask to see those credentials at any time, regardless of whether the officer is in plain clothes or an unmarked vehicle.

MORE: Cop or not? 9 tips for officer interactions

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