Linking 3 cases, cops hunt serial predator in college town

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — The police chief of an Ohio college town said authorities are seeking a predator linked to sexual assaults on three women since 2006.

Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said Thursday that DNA evidence shows the same person committed the separate but similar assaults — one in 2006 and two last year, one in June and another in December. The city is home to Ohio University.

The victims were all young women walking home in the middle of the night when the attacks occurred.

The 2006 victim was raped, and the June case involved an attempted sexual assault, according to police. Authorities say the December encounter was similar to the other two, but the exact circumstances of it are unclear.

Police are increasing patrols and asking for the public’s help in finding the suspect, Pyle said.

“We encourage everyone, especially students, to stay alert and be upstanding and active bystanders,” Pyle said.

University police have also been assisting with the investigation. University officials said Thursday that steps being taken to provide additional protection for students include extending the hours of an on-demand transit service and widening the service’s coverage area to include off-campus housing.

Messages seeking additional information were left Friday for Pyle, the Athens County prosecutor and university officials.

Police also have asked the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for help with the investigation.

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