Arrest In Phoenix 'Baseline' Probe

Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill announces the arrest of a 40-year-old man in connection with an investigation of sexual assault linked to one of the so-called Baseline Killer cases during a news conference in front of Police Headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006, in Phoenix.
AP Photo/Paul Connors
Police investigating eight serial killings blamed on the "Baseline Killer" arrested a man in a sexual assault connected to the case, authorities said Thursday.

Police have forensic evidence to connect the 40-year-old man, whose identity was not released, to one case from last year, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman with the Phoenix Police Department. Hill said the man was being held for investigation of sexual assault and kidnapping.

"We still consider all those other cases open at this point," Hill said. "The investigation is continuing and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

"We have not closed the case at all as far as the whole Baseline Killer series. That is not done. We are only dealing with one specific case," Hill added.

The man was booked into jail while witnesses from the 2005 attack were called to look at a photo line-up, Hill said. For that reason, police were not releasing his name or photo.

Hill said police first got the man's name in mid-July but didn't identify him as a possible suspect in the sexual assault case until last weekend. Officers had spoken to the man prior to his arrested on Wednesday, Hill said, but he noted that police had talked to many people during the course of the investigation.

Hill said the man has a criminal record, but he wouldn't elaborate.

The man was arrested at a traffic stop near his home Wednesday afternoon, reports Tammy Leitner of CBS affiliate KPHO-TV. The suspect lives in the general area where the attacks took place.

Barbara Holzapfel, who lives next door to the suspect, said he was a "wonderful guy" who kept meticulous care of the bushes in the front yard. She remembered him talking to her about the Baseline Killer investigation after 37-year-old Carmen Miranda was killed June 29 at a car wash a block away.

"He would say, 'There are idiots all over the world,'" Holzapfel said.

The "Baseline Killer" has been linked to 23 crimes in the Phoenix metropolitan area dating to August 2005, including eight killings. The crimes also include 11 sexual assaults of women and young girls and several robberies.

Reports show the sexual assaults ranged from fondling to rape. In many cases, victims had conversations with the man before they were attacked. He appeared to always have a gun, and often threatened to shoot and kill victims.

"He's been known to use disguises. As a matter of fact, from some of the police records we had a chance to look at, he's posed as a homeless person, engaged people in conversation, asked for rides and even said 'thank you' after robbing people," reports Jim Sharpe of CBS radio affiliate KFYI. "He's named for a road in south Phoenix where he struck originally."

The case is one of two serial predator cases that have shaken the Phoenix area over the past year.

In the other, dubbed the "Serial Shooter" investigation, police arrested Dale S. Hausner, 33, and Samuel Dieteman, 30, early last month. The roommates are charged with murder and attempted murder in 16 shootings, two of them fatal. Both pleaded not guilty.

Police believe Hausner and Dieteman took turns shooting random victims throughout the Phoenix area late at night and early in the morning. Police are investigating a total of 37 random shootings believed to be connected that killed seven people and wounded 17 since May 2005.

The series of crimes have cast a pall over Phoenix, says Sharpe.

"My wife goes to school at night, she's getting her master's degree, and I've been having her call me every night. When she gets in her car, I insist that she walks out with friends as she leaves school," the KFYI reporter said. "A lot of people in the valley here, as we call it, have been emphasizing to their wives, their daughters, their girlfriends, their mothers, 'please, walk with other people and try not to be out late night.'

"It's a scary thing to have a person like this roaming your city."