10.26.11

Stalking the Sorority Sisters

Delta Sigma Theta members in Dallas are being warned not to post personal information on Facebook after a series of rapes of sorority alumnae by a man who may have checked them out on the Internet.

While authorities in Texas are frantically searching for the serial rapist who appears to be preying on alumnae of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the well-known black sorority is warning its members to be on the look-out for the attacker.

In the last 10 months, four alumnae in their mid 50s and 60s have been attacked at night in their homes near Dallas. The first two rapes happened within five months of each other in Plano, a suburb northwest of Dallas with a population of 250,000. The third attack occurred a short drive away in the small bedroom community of Coppell in September. The most recent rape was on October 14 in Corinth, a few miles away.

In one of the rapes, the man broke in through the victim’s garage, and in at least two other attacks, he accosted the women while they were asleep in their beds. The man, police said, seemed to have personal information about his victims. Investigators have released surveillance video that apparently shows the rapist walking around one of his victim’s homes on April 6.

“The attacks are not random,” said Coppell Deputy Police Chief Matthew Kosec. “This is an exception in our community and we take it very seriously.”

A motive behind the brutal assaults is unclear, and police are still trying to determine why the man—described as black, in his late 30s to mid 40s, 5-foot-7 to 6 feet tall, 250 to 300 pounds, with a heavy build—would target the women.

“The key link is their sorority alumni association,” said Kosec. “They are associated with the same sorority. It is a large organization and [the victims] went to different colleges.”

Another question is why he chose these particular victims. Heather Bowden, press coordinator with the Plano Police Department, said the police have shown the women a video of the alleged attacker but “as far as I know the [women] are pulling a blank.”

“We are still trying to figure out how he got their names,” she said.

Lt. Jimmie Gregg of the Corinth Police Department said the attacker may have gotten their names off the Internet or accessed a sorority list. “Their information is not on the sorority website but if he knew their names he could find out their information with a Google search…It is possible based on what we found he did track them and found out their daily habits.”

The Dallas chapter of the sorority, which is almost 100 years old, holds regular monthly meetings but police aren’t disclosing if the women attended them. “There is a monthly meeting,” said Bowden. “I don’t know if all of the women are active and go to the same meetings.”

The non-profit has more than 250,000 members, mostly black college-educated women, and has more than 940 chapters in the United States, England, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas and South Korea.

Surveillance video apparently shows the rapist walking around one of his victim’s homes.

When the news broke, Delta Sigma Theta sorority posted a warning to its alumnae urging them to refrain from wearing clothes that identify the organization, and asked them to remove items identifying them as sorority alumnae from their cars, key chains, homes and offices. In addition, the organization told its members they should stop posting their personal information, such as their whereabouts, on Facebook and other social-media sites, and make sure their homes are locked and secured.

“To think that our members are being targeted is disturbing and extremely disheartening,” said Delta Sigma Theta National President Cynthia M. A. Butler-McIntyre. "Since receiving news of these incidents, our primary concern has been the safety of our members."