By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
Sheriffs from Bell, Leon and Milam counties met Wednesday to review details of investigations into multiple sexual assaults and attacks on elderly women across Texas.
The most recent attack happened Saturday in Falls County outside of Marlin.
It was typical of the attacks being investigated; the woman was 80 years old and was sexually assaulted in her home.
All of the reported attacks – at least seven this year – happened at night and involved women over 60 years old who live alone in rural areas. Not every woman has reported a sexual assault; in some cases the attacker beat the victim instead.
According to early reports by the sheriff's office, the suspect or suspects appear to be staking out the women's homes before the invasion. In the August incident in Zabcikville, an East Bell County town of about 40, the attacker removed all the phones from his victim's house before entering.
In September, the suspect cut his Leon County victim's phone lines.
Unusual items are sometimes reported stolen from the homes, including mounted deer heads and a wall clock.
The victims were unable to provide a clear description of the suspect because it was dark when he attacked each time. Some have seen his silhouette and estimate him at about 6 feet tall.
Investigators are searching for evidence that connects all the attacks, which sometimes occur days apart and hundreds of miles away.
"Some of the cases share similar details and evidence which indicate that the crimes may have been committed by the same person. However, there is no evidence to link all of the cases conclusively," the press release stated.
DNA has linked a Leon County assault in July to one in Lavaca County that happened earlier this year.
Representatives from the district attorney's office, the Texas Rangers, and the Texas Department of Safety's Technical Unit, Crime Lab and Crime Investigation Department, also attended the meeting, hosted by the Bell County sheriff's office. Investigations are also being conducted in Falls and DeWitt counties.
Sheriff Dan Smith asked in the press release that residents in affected counties remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to their sheriff's office.
The Bell County sheriff's office could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553.