Over the last six months, at least a half dozen women have been raped in our area on both sides of the state line. For weeks now, rumors have flown all over Beaufort and Jasper Counties that a pair of rapes there might be connected to the serial rapist in Savannah. Today, law enforcement officers say all six rapes are indeed linked.
"We met Tuesday here in Beaufort with all the jurisdictions involved, and based upon that meeting we had on Tuesday, we feel very confident in saying this suspect is the same suspect in those cases," said Seriff PJ Tanner of Beaufort County.
In August and September, investigators say the suspect committed four rapes in Savannah and Richmond Hill. He then apparently laid low, before raping a woman in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Hardeeville. A couple weeks later, he struck again, this time at a Bluffton apartment complex.
"We're raising the level of intensity that people really need to concern themselves, as far as their surroundings," said Sheriff Tanner. "We want them to be very conscientious of where they're at and what they're doing."
Over the last few weeks, the sheriff's office had worked hard to squash rumors that these rapes were definitely connected, while never ruling out the possibility. They handled dozens of calls from people concerned about that link, and now they're asking all those people for vigilance.
"We can't solve this case without the public's help and so we've got the have the public's help to do so," said Sheriff Tanner.
The four different jurisdictions aren't putting together a joint task force per se to work on these rape cases, but they are all using a common tip line for anyone with information about this case. That number is 1.800.525.7175.