MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minneapolis police say they've arrested a 34-year-old man whom they believe is a serial rapist, responsible for multiple sexual assaults near the University of Minnesota dating back to 2015.
The man is in Hennepin County Jail on probable cause for burglary and criminal sexual conduct. Police say the suspect was arrested on Friday at a residence in Anoka County after a long investigation. He has not yet been officially charged.
The absence of crime scene tape in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of Minneapolis doesn't mean the fear disappeared. Olivia Bien, a St. Catherine University student, lives in the area.
"It was still always in the back of my mind like no matter what," Bien said.
A series of sexual assaults, including one in August of 2019 when police say a man broke into a woman's bedroom through the window, put the community on edge as the cases mounted.
"My mom instantly was like, 'You need to lock your windows, you need to make sure you're staying safe,'" Bien said.
Those concerns were met with relief Sunday afternoon when Minneapolis police announced the arrest of a man they say is behind several attacks in the Marcy-Holmes and Dinkytown neighborhoods. The attacks in those areas go as far back as 2015, and police believe other cases beyond the city as far back as 2013.
Based on victim descriptions, police released face sketches last month of the suspected attacker. Meanwhile, women started taking self-defense classes as neighborhood groups pressed police for answers. Vic Thorstenson, president of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, says residents have been on "pins and needles" about the situation.
"If this does indeed go back to 2015, that would answer a lot of questions for us," Thorstenson said.
Investigators said they analyzed several cases, trying to match the evidence with the victim's descriptions. Without going into detail, Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Erick Fors said a breakthrough last week led them to Anoka County, where they arrested the suspect Friday.
"It took a lot of time and effort to find someone that I will say, until Friday, was not someone that was in the forefront," Fors said. "It required us to sift through a lot of police records, tips, everything that would come in."
Thorstenson said his neighborhood group held a community meeting on Zoom last Monday. During it, he said police acknowledged getting more than 100 tips after the suspect sketches were released, but still had no solid leads. Four days later, police would make their arrest.
"Apparently this case developed very late, and we're grateful that it did," Thorstenson said. "It's a huge relief."
At the press conference Sunday, Mayor Jacob Frey said he hoped the arrest would bring closure for the victims involved. Chief Medaria Arradondo had a message for them as well.
"I thank you for and acknowledge your courage and your strength. And I will tell you that all of our law enforcement partners involved in this arrest did not forget you," Arradondo said.
Police anticipate they will get several more complaints about the suspect once his name and mugshot is released.
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