Police: Weekend attempted rape possibly linked to other assaults

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Police in Clayton County spent Wednesday afternoon canvassing the neighborhood where a violent home invasion and attempted sexual assault occurred early Sunday morning.

Officers went door-to-door with a new composite sketch of a suspect in hopes someone would recognize him.

Officers were called out to the Park at Tara Apartments on Tara Road in Jonesboro about 1 a.m. Sunday after receiving a 911 call about a possible home invasion. Two women described to officers the violent encounter with a man.

Clayton County Police Division Commander Major Anthony Thurmond said the man entered the apartment of two sisters and attempted to assault one of the women. She cried out for help, alerting her roommate.

Police said the women were able to fight off the man, who fled out the back door of the apartment. Both women were taken to a hospital to be checked out. Both are expected to recover from their injuries.

A relative of the two sisters told FOX 5 News they are “heroes” for the way they refused to succumb to the threat from the intruder.

"This is the latest in a series of sexual assaults that we've had here in Clayton County," Thurmond said.

What is especially concerning for law enforcement officials in Clayton County is a series of eight rapes before this incident that investigators said exhibit strong similarities to this one. Those violent crimes span as far back as 2015. Despite the similarities, investigators could not yet link this latest crime to the serial rapist.

"There is no DNA evidence to link this suspect from the 28th to the serial rapes,” Maj. Thurmond said, explaining the evidence in this latest case is still being processed.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, police released the latest sketch and posted it alongside the previous composite sketches. Investigators also are working with apartments to view surveillance videos.

Major Thurmond would not expand upon the serial rapist’s modus operandi or what similarities they see in this latest case but did say there were no indications the victim knew the suspect, as with the other eight cases. He said this time the man was not armed but has been in the past.

Also, not all of the assaults have occurred in apartment complexes, but all have taken place in a residential area. There also have been gaps in the assaults, but none of them have been consistent. But one thing that has been consistent was the area.

"The fact he is staying in one corridor is concerning," the major said, adding the suspect may know the area well or may feel more comfortable in the area.

Police describe the suspect in this latest case as being an African-American male with a dark complexion, low-cut hair, thin mustache, slim build with “defined abs,” and standing about 5-feet-10-inches tall to 6-feet tall. He was wearing jeans and a green/white plaid boxers.

Thurmond asked the community not to just focus on the sketch. He said if anyone had any information they believe is relevant, no matter how small it might seem, to come forward.

"This remains our top priority," the major said.

Maj. Thurmond said anyone with information can reach out through the department’s social media accounts, call 911, contact Crime Stoppers, or the detectives themselves by calling 770-477-3605.