Be'er Sheva, Israel
The man has confessed to two cases. There were two of the four cases the police wanted to charge him with after a DNA test done over the weekend proved that he was responsible for the March 19 rape of an 8-year-old girl in Ashdod.
The hunt for the man began in January 2001, after an 8-year-old girl in the Nahal Ashan neighborhood of Be'er Sheva was raped. Three months later, a 7-year-old girl from a neighborhood not far from Nahal Ashan was raped, and then again, in May, the rapist struck, threatening a nine-year-old girl with a knife to get her in his car.
The latest rape was in March of this year. An 8-year-old girl on her way home from school was picked up, and thrown in the trunk of the car. Passersby heard the girl screaming, and called the police. But police dragnets in the area failed to find the car. However, by then, police knew they were hunting for a Mazda 323 Lantis, and they began a systematic survey of all such cars in the south.
Already from the first rape, Negev detectives began going over past pedophile cases, eventually investigating and interrogating more than 200 potential suspects, based on recorded sexual crimes, and information from prison intelligence sources. More than 200 blood samples were taken, and 500 Mazdas were examined. Several artist sketches were prepared based on what the children were able to describe. Police ambushes were out in place, particularly in the Be'er Sheva area and dozens of police were eventually involved in the case.
But the breakthrough came two months ago. Because of the eyewitnesses to the kidnapping of the Ashdod girl, police had some unique identifying characteristics of the car used in the kidnapping. Police throughout the Lachish region were notified of those, and on Friday, a policeman on a routine radar patrol at the southern exit from Ashdod, spotted the car. He pulled it over, and the main investigating team arrived to take over.
The man behind the wheel said that he had bought the car from his brother just a month earlier, so the brother - and a third brother - were brought in. All three volunteered blood samples.
The National Police lab worked around the clock during the weekend and by Saturday night, the DNA results were ready, and the man who sold the car to his brother a month earlier became the prime suspect.
At first, the suspect denied any connection to the incidents, but after further questioning, admitted to two of the cases, saying he had a difficult time explaining why he did it. He said that he began his rape spree after reading an article in the newspaper about another pedophile case involving a man who raped small children.
According to the police, the suspect has a criminal record for theft, but no record of sex crimes. The police say there is no doubt that the man was responsible for at least three of the cases, and possibly the fourth. Furthermore, they said, it is possible he raped other children, but that those cases were never reported to the police.
Deputy Commander Uzi Zadok, commander of the national forensic team, said the case proved there was a need for a national DNA database, in which all known sex offenders would be listed; this would enable the police to quickly match DNA found in sex crimes with offenders listed in the database.
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