Texas officials are searching vigorously for the serial rapist that has been stalking and assaulting middle-aged African American women who also happen to be members of the same black Greek-letter organization.

Authorities in Dallas and in the suburbs surrounding the metropolis have now advised all alumnae members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to begin taking extra safety precautions, especially between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., which is the time period during which all the reported attacks occurred.

The victims involved in each attack did not attend the same college and were not related, further highlighting their involvement in the same organization as one of the glaring possible correlations between each attack. All of the women attacked were in their mid 50s and 60s but police have warned women of all ages and races that this is not to be seen as an automatic safeguard from becoming a victim.

Police have been scrutinizing a surveillance video from April 6 that shows a possible suspect who is still at large. Described as being an African-American male between 5 feet 7 inches and six feet, weighing 250 to 300 pounds, the man seen in the short tape is also believed to be in his late 30s to mid 40s.

“Since receiving news of these incidents, our primary concern has been the safety of our members,” said Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, national president of the Grand Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. “While it is not yet confirmed that these victims were targeted because of their affiliation with the Sorority, we are erring on the side of caution,” said Butler-McIntyre in a press release this week.

Reports from police state that the four women were in their homes alone when the sexual assaults took place. While it is unknown exactly how the victims were chosen, statements taken by police reveal that the perpetrator knew private details about each of the women, which he disclosed during his attack. To date, it is still unclear as to how the suspect is accessing this information. ?The first assault last November was in Plano, Texas. Officials began to notice the pattern of crime after the second attack against a member of the same organization. Since then, attacks have spread to the nearby counties of Coppell and Corinth, the latter being the scene of the most recent attack on October 14.

Aside from taking further care when running errands, shopping or working, officials are also recommending that members of the sorority remove all signs of affiliation in the way of key chains, bumper and window stickers, license plates, and any other readily identifiable signs of membership. Ladies of the organization are also encouraged to be mindful of wearing sorority paraphernalia and displaying items in work environments that may show affiliation with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Community members and authorities alike are outraged and in disbelief that this could happen in their community with no clear motive.

“We have no idea why he did this at this point,” said Greg Wilkerson to local media. “We’re hoping someone will recognize the suspect. While we have had sexual assault cases in the past, this one is very atypical.”

Wilkerson, who is captain of the Corinth police department, warned ladies involved with the sorority to monitor information put on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as it is still uncertain how the rapist is aware that the women are members of the same sorority. These precautions, such as privatizing profiles, having secure passwords, and using caution when approving friend requests and followers are steps women and men, young and old, should take to protect themselves in the new digital age.

“Delta Sigma Theta has a strong presence and long history of service in the Dallas area and worldwide,” said Butler-McIntyre. “To think that our members are being targeted is disturbing and extremely disheartening.”

Founded in 1913 on the campus of Howard University, the 22 founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority set the foundation for an organization that has only grown stronger over the decades. Now a worldwide movement, the Sorority boasts over 250,000 members who are committed to making change through almost 1,000 chapters located across the globe.

 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer