Toronto police are appealing to the public for assistance in identifying a male suspect who is wanted after officers say his DNA was linked to three separate sexual assaults reported over the past four years.
Police previously released a composite sketch of the suspect in 2017, but on Thursday, officers renewed calls for assistance in identifying the man after investigators alleged he was responsible for another sexual assault last month.
Investigators added that DNA evidence has so far linked the suspect to three reported sex assaults against women, with the first dating back to 2015.
Police said on July 28, 2015, a 23-year-old woman was approached by a man from behind in the area of Dufferin Street and Rogers Road, dragged into a laneway and sexually assaulted.
Police allege the same suspect is responsible for a sexual assault that reportedly happened on New Year’s Day 2017 in Collingwood.
In that incident, investigators allege a 17-year-old girl was pulled into a vehicle by a man and sexually assaulted at around 1:20 a.m.
“There was markedly more violence in this sexual assault,” Pauline Gray of the Toronto police sex crimes unit said in a Thursday morning press conference.
Gray said that after the second incident, Toronto police and Ontario Provincial Police linked the reported sexual assault to the one that occurred in 2015 and released a composite sketch of a male suspect, but have been unable to identify him.
Police are renewing their calls for public assistance in identifying the suspect following another reported sexual assault last month.
On July 15 at around 10:25 p.m., police say a 28-year-old woman ordered a ridesharing vehicle to pick her up near the Exhibition Grounds. She got into a vehicle, believing it was the one she had ordered, Gray said.
The driver allegedly made the woman believe he was her driver before taking her to a parking lot, making death threats and sexually assaulting her, Gray said.
“Each assault, it escalated in his violence. I won’t speak to what that violence is, but he is escalating,” she said.
Investigators believe the suspect suffered an injury to his eye during the third incident, which may assist in identifying him.
“I’m asking that anyone working in a hospital, clinic, doctor’s or optometrist’s office or pharmacy that may have encountered someone with a similar injury and description shortly after July 15th contact us,” Gray said.
Gray added that investigators believe the suspect did not necessarily pretend to be a ridesharing driver before carrying out the other reported assaults.
“The fact that he presented himself as a rideshare was opportunistic. I don’t believe he’s presented himself as a rideshare in the other two instances or any other time he’s making contact with potential victims,” she said.
“This man is [predatory], and he is looking for young women walking on their own.”
Given the time span between the reported assaults, investigators said they believe there may be more victims linked to these cases who have not come forward to authorities.
In the most recent incident, the suspect was described as a 25- to 35-year-old man who was between five feet seven inches and five feet nine inches tall. He had a small build and a short beard and was reportedly driving a grey, silver or black vehicle with four doors.
“We have the DNA but we don’t have anything to compare it to,” Gray said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-888-222-8477.
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