COLUMBIA — A sexual assault reported Friday morning on East Stadium Boulevard is the latest in a series of increasingly violent break-ins police believe may be tied to the same suspect.
Police received a report that around 6:30 a.m. Friday a man armed with a knife entered a residence through an unlocked door. According to a release from the Columbia Police Department, he went into a bedroom, where he sexually assaulted a woman before fleeing. The address of the break-in matches that of The Domain apartment complex at Stadium Boulevard and U.S. 63.
The string of six similar reports began May 1. In almost every case, the suspect entered or attempted to enter the residence between 6 and 7:15 a.m., according to the release. In three of the cases, the door was unlocked.
Once inside, the suspect often made contact with a victim in her bedroom. His actions seem to have escalated with each subsequent reported break-in.
The suspect was described by the Columbia Police Department as a male in his 30s, between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches tall, with an athletic build. At times, he was seen wearing glasses.
The description also fits that of a suspect connected to a series of nine crimes last year in the East Campus-downtown area. Those crimes happened at or before 6 a.m., and in each case, the door was unlocked.
The recent incidents, including Friday's reported sexual assault, were reported as follows:
- May 1, 6:15 a.m.: The victim was awake and in the kitchen of her residence on East Stadium Boulevard when she observed the front doorknob turning slowly. The door was locked and the suspect did not enter.
- May 1, 6:15 a.m.: A suspect entered a residence at the same address through an unlocked front door. The victim awoke to find the suspect in her bedroom. Once seen, he calmly left the apartment.
- May 1, 7 a.m.: A suspect entered a residence at the same address through an unlocked front door. The victim woke up and saw the suspect in her room, armed with a knife. She was told to remove her clothing, and the suspect masturbated. The suspect stayed in the residence for a total of five minutes.
- May 4, 7:12 a.m.: A suspect approached a woman walking along the 4100 block of Lenoir Street, held a knife to her throat and attempted to sexually assault her. The suspect fled on foot when the victim fought back.
- May 8, between midnight and 3:30 a.m.: A suspect entered an apartment on Grindstone Parkway through a downstairs window. The victim was awoken when she heard someone trying to open her locked bedroom door. When the victim left her room, she found a downstairs window open but nothing missing.
- May 9, 6:26 a.m.: A suspect entered a residence on East Stadium Boulevard through an unlocked door. The victim awoke to find the suspect, armed with a knife, in her bedroom. The suspect sexually assaulted the victim before fleeing.
The Columbia Police Department asked victims or witnesses of similar events or those who have any additional information to contact law enforcement at 442-6131 or Crime Stoppers at 875-8477 to remain anonymous.
Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.