New information in serial rapes of KU, K-State students to be released

Riley County and Lawrence police have new information in a case involving a serial rapist who terrorized college-age women near the Kansas State and University of Kansas campuses for nearly a decade.

Police in a statement released Wednesday announced a joint news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday “concerning an ongoing joint investigation into sexual assaults occurring in both jurisdictions dating back to October of 2000.”

“There will be new information released on the sexual assaults,” said Sgt. Amy Rhoads, a spokeswoman with Lawrence police. She would not elaborate.

The Kansas City Star has followed the case involving the two communities that dates back to October 2000, when an attempted rape was reported in Manhattan. The case involves the rapes of 13 women, seven in Manhattan beginning in 2001 and six in Lawrence since 2004.

All of the attacks occurred off campus in the two communities.

Calls to K-State and a Riley County police commander involved in the investigation were not immediately returned. A spokesman with KU police said his department would not be involved in the news conference.

In 2009, the two jurisdictions privately reached out to the Kansas attorney general’s office for help in coordinating the investigations. In March of that year, the attorney general’s office revealed that the cases shared similarities and that the public should be told of the threat.

Authorities have said the rapist sees a woman and then comes to know her routine. They have not detailed certain methods or tactics or what possibly ties the cases together. All the rapes have occurred while students are on holiday breaks or during the summer.

Officials with Riley County police told The Star in 2007 that they believed the man first surfaced in October 2000 when authorities say he tried to rape a woman but, after a struggle, ran off. The series of rapes in Manhattan began in August 2001. But it wasn’t until three or four years later that police acknowledged they may all be related.

Clues from the Manhattan cases point to a white male, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, who used a mask to keep victims from seeing more than his eyes. Five of the seven rapes in Manhattan occurred from May to September. Another occurred in March and one in December.

In Lawrence, authorities haven’t discussed a mask being used. Victims there have described a white man between 5 feet, 9 inches and 6 feet tall.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

Laura Bauer: 816-234-4944, @kclaurab