Philadelphia police are looking for a "volatile" armed serial rapist who they believe has since March assaulted four Germantown juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17.
Special Victims Unit Capt. John Darby on Monday gave a rundown of the series of attacks in the area of Chelten Avenue just north of Chew Avenue.
"They involve juvenile female complainants – these are all teenagers in that particular area approached on the highway by a single perpetrator," Darby said.
"He's armed with a handgun and forces them off the highway into alleys, behind properties and, most recently, into a recreation center, where a sexual assault does take place."
Darby said the suspect first struck around 7:30 a.m. on March 19, when he approached a 12-year-old who was waiting for a school bus near Anderson and Price streets, escorted her at gunpoint into a alleyway and sexually assaulted her.
Police believe the same man struck again around 11 p.m. on April 23, forcing a 17-year-old girl who was walking on the 900 block of East Chelten Avenue into a nearby commercial property and sexually assaulting her.
The suspect again attacked around 10:45 p.m. on May 19, sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl on the 6000 block of Wister Street in an attack that was caught on video.
The man can be seen on camera passing the victim on a dark-colored mountain bike, propping it up against a wall and immediately turning back toward the teen.
Darby said the video "clearly shows" the suspect's intent, noting he's never made any monetary demands or attempted to rob his victims.
"That victim had seen him, he had passed by her, basically, to stage that bike somewhere, then to come back and immediately confront her," Darby said.
"Again, that's the only incident right now that we actually have the bike viewed. It might have been used in other cases, but we just don't know at this point."
Investigators said the man struck again this past Sunday around 12:30 a.m., approaching a 17-year-old on the 1200 block of East Chelten Avenue and forcing her just inside one of the entrance gates of the Lonnie Young Recreation Center, where he sexually assaulted her.
"This incident Sunday clearly indicated we had a pattern," Darby said.
"There's been some variances on the time of day, the days of the week and general descriptions; however, it's clear to us the same perpetrator did commit all of these crimes."
He said though DNA tests are still pending and investigators are still combing the neighborhood for additional video, officials were able to connect the assaults due to similarly-worded orders and demands made by the suspect.
"It has helped us to develop that paint stroke," he said.
"It develops a picture for us, and that picture is that this perpetrator is one and the same."
Darby further noted the possibility that the man could be singling out his victims ahead of time.
"He certainly seems to know where he wants to approach these victims," he said.
"He didn't just climb out of a hole. It appears he might have orchestrated some of these things. From the victims, he's there, he's waiting, he might have been watching them for an amount of time."
Police are asking anyone with information to come forward before the situation escalates further.
"It's a dangerous situation here," Darby said.
"We've got a guy with a gun, young female victims – we can't predict what they're going to do – we've got to get him off the street and we're asking the public to do that."
The suspect is described as a 5-foot-7-inch to 5-foot-9-inch tall black male in his late 20s to 30s with a light complexion and medium to stocky build.
In most of the attacks, he wore dark-colored clothing and concealed his face with a hooded sweatshirt.
In the most recent incident police said the suspect was wearing a white-shirt, blue jeans and a ski mask.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911, to contact the Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3251 or 3252, or to submit an anonymous tip by dialing 215-686-TIPS (8477), texting PPD TIP (773847), emailing email@example.com or by filling out this online form.