NEW PORT RICHEY — So far, detectives have only a composite sketch of the man they say picked up prostitutes along U.S. 19 and told them he was a law enforcement officer before he raped them.
Investigators have no reason to believe the man is actually an officer, said Pasco Sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Schoneman. They have documented three incidents with a different woman each time, said Detective Dan Toner, but they think up to six women have been sexually battered. The first was Oct. 22. Another woman made a report in November. Most recently, a woman reported being raped on Dec. 21.
Detectives think the man is between 35 and 40 years old, about 6 feet tall and 230 pounds. He has brown eyes, straight brown hair and a goatee. He is thought to be Hispanic.
Late in the afternoon or early in the evening, the man found his victims along U.S. 19 from Holiday to Hudson, Toner said. He was reported to be driving two vehicles between the three cases. One is a red, single-cab, older-model pickup with a toolbox in the bed. The other is an older-model, faded blue SUV, such as a Chevy Blazer or Suburban.
The man would negotiate a deal with the women and they would get in the vehicle, Toner said. At some point along the way, the man would tell the victims that he is a law enforcement officer. Detectives don't think he had lights or law enforcement symbols on his car.
Then the man would take the prostitutes to secluded places where he would rape them. Two were unspecified county parks. Another was a desolate part of Hudson. The women had no control, Schoneman said. They didn't know if they were going to be arrested or killed.
The man was violent during the most recent rape. Investigators fear that trend will continue.
"He's familiar with the area," Toner said. "He knows his surroundings. He's possibly a resident of Pasco County or lives near Pasco County."
Schoneman and Toner would not say what the man did with his victims after the rapes, citing the information as part of the investigation. Toner said the man was with his victims for "a lengthy period of time — long enough for them to have conversations with him."
Schoneman said the man seems to be targeting prostitutes exclusively.
"Even though they're in a high-risk occupation, they're victims. They've been terrorized," Schoneman said. One of the victims still has nightmares and jumps at the sound of closing doors.
"They live a life that can be quite violent," Schoneman said. "But this has taken them to the core. This person had total control of their lives, and there's nothing scarier than that."
Anyone with information can contact the Pasco Sheriff's Office tipline at (727) 844-7711.
Alex Orlando can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6247.