Dallas police search for clues in rash of Lake Highlands rape cases
UPDATE: On March 20, DNA evidence cleared Fernando Munoz of the February 22 sexual assault in Lake Highlands. There are currently three unsolved rape cases in the area.
Two recent sexual assaults in Lake Highlands have the community on high alert. Richardson ISD put 12 area schools on lockdown following a burglary and sexual assault on March 19.
Dallas police believed they had arrested a serial rapist in the area when they detained Fernando Munoz on March 1. In addition to being charged with aggravated assault and burglary, Munoz was tied by DNA evidence to two sexual assaults in 2008 and one 2010. He is under investigation for an unsolved February 22 rape in Lake Highlands.
But someone else committed sexual assault in the upscale neighborhood on March 15 and March 19, while Munoz is being held on a $2 million bond.
"We're going to be very aggressive in pursing this suspect, and we want the public's help," said Dallas chief of police David Brown.
The descriptions of the attackers are similar but not exactly the same. Police are wondering if they are searching for two more rapists or one.
Dallas chief of police David Brown spoke to media on Tuesday afternoon and promised vigilance. "We're going to be very aggressive in pursing this suspect, and we want the public's help," he said.
In addition to assembling a team within the sexual assault unit to specifically investigate the cases, Brown said police are contacting all registered sex offenders in Dallas who match the two descriptions. Police have also increased patrols in Lake Highlands.
The victim in the March 15 attack, which occurred around 10 pm, said the attacker was a clean-shaven Latin male in his 20s, with a chubby face and short hair. The victim in the March 19 attack, which occurred around 6:45 am, said the attacker was a Latin male in his 20s, with a thin build and small mustache.
"Many victims, particularly in sexual assaults, can describe suspects completely different, and they are the same guy," Brown said. "We still may have two separate people doing this, but we don’t want to rule out that it’s all the same person."
Munoz, who is Cuban, was alternately described by his victims as black and Latino.
Despite the uptick of sexual assaults in the area, Brown said as far as his office can tell, reports of rape are down overall in Dallas.
"Rape is one of the most underreported crimes that we measure. Much of what happens doesn't get reported, for a lot of reasons," he said. "But the trend line for 10-year or five-year is dramatically down."
Crimestoppers is offering a $5,000 award for information on the assaults, and the police are encouraging tipsters to call 214-670-4415.
"[Lake Highlands] is one of the safest neighborhoods in Dallas," Brown said. "We are throwing everything that we have, all our resources, at this issue until we bring this suspect to justice. We won't rest until this person is caught, arrested and put in the criminal justice system."