Reward is offered as police seek suspect in serial rapesBy MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 19, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- The attacker was riding a purple and white 10-speed bicycle when he approached the woman on April 11, 2000, said St. Petersburg police.
She had been walking near 18th Avenue S and 13th Street when he struck. He forced her into a vacant house and repeatedly raped her before he let her go.
On Tuesday, St. Petersburg police issued an arrest warrant for 49-year-old Otis Wright, their suspect in the April 11 attack.
Authorities said they also want to question Wright in five other sexual assaults dating back to 1999 that were linked together Tuesday using DNA evidence.
"There seems to be a pattern of rapes that are particularly heinous," said Sgt. Katy Connor-Dubina, adding "although the DNA has not been linked to him, the M.O. in the cases match."
Police said they want to arrest Wright, who weighs about 200 pounds and is 6 feet tall with black hair and brown eyes, in connection with the April 11 attack.
Wright has at least 15 years of robberies, sexual batteries and DUIs on his record. He sometimes wears a black, leather Tommy Hilfiger cap and has been known to frequent the hotels along 34th Street and in other parts of the city -- always riding a bicycle, St. Petersburg police said.
Authorities are now seeking the public's help in locating him. A reward is offered.
"We're on a mission," Connor-Dubina said.
Detectives, who worked with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to speed up the DNA requests, said the suspect in the five linked rapes picks his victims randomly. Some are in their 20s, others in their 40s. Some victims are black, others are white. The common denominator is that all were walking between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. when they were attacked.
"These are people that he doesn't know," said Connor-Dubina. She said the attacker typically uses a pretense to talk to them. "He usually uses a knife or physically forces them into homes or under homes where he ... assaults them for hours. One woman he stabbed in the head."
Police said they were able to identify Wright in the April 11, 2000, attack using investigative techniques and would first need to obtain a DNA sample before they could connect him with others.
Anyone with information on Wright's location is asked to contact St. Petersburg police detectives at (727) 893-4259.
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