Police to DNA test 2,000 in rapist hunt

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The Independent Online

Up to 2,000 men are to be DNA tested as part of a long-running police inquiry to catch a rapist thought to be responsible for at least 14 attacks.

Up to 2,000 men are to be DNA tested as part of a long-running police inquiry to catch a rapist thought to be responsible for at least 14 attacks.

The serial sex offender has been attacking women in Bath and, on one occasion, in Bristol during the past decade.

The victims, who ranged in age from 16 to 49, were usually assaulted at knifepoint while parking their cars. Several were abducted while walking. The rapist, who left a baseball hat bearing the Batman logo after one attack, sometimes forced the women to wear tights before ripping them off and assaulting them.

He has raped five women, attempted to rape a sixth and attempted to abduct eight others.

He is believed to have struck first in Bath in 1991. His latest attack was last May when he tried to drag a 26-year-old woman from her car in Bath while her daughter was asleep in the back seat.

The police have obtained a DNA sample from one of the crime scenes and plan to compare it with genetic material from all the men who have been questioned about the crimes during the past 10 years. There are an estimated 2,000 men involved.

In October the police sent leaflets to 25,000 homes in Bath requesting information about the attacker.

Detective Inspector Paul James, who is leading Operation Eagle for Avon and Somerset police, said men approached for a DNA sample would be asked to co-operate voluntarily. Anyone who refuses is likely to come under closer scrutiny. "In similar inquiries it had been rare for people to refuse to give a samples," he said.

Operation Eagle was one of the most complicated and protracted investigations the force had ever done, he said.

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