Catch Me if You Can
Within two weeks, there have been six attacks on women, all late at night and all within the city proper. All victims have been between their late teens and early-30s.
And just in time for a new slew of freshmen girls who are arriving on campus in advance of the 2011-12 school year.
As the father of an 18-year-old daughter, I'm not sure what my emotions would be like if I had to drop her off at U-M now, right when these attacks are taking place.
Because one thing is certain: the assaults won't end until the assailant is caught; serial anything doesn't just stop, miraculously. The perp is either caught or dies---or else the crimes will continue.
The only thing preventing more killings than the four children who were sexually assaulted and killed by the Oakland County Child Killer in the mid-1970s was likely the death of the bad guy. That's long been the theory of law enforcement and it's got precedent.
These guys who commit repetitive crimes in serial fashion get too big of a thrill out of it to suddenly cease and desist.
They have to be caught or die in order for the attacks to stop.
But even as far as serial sexual assaults go, what's happening now in Ann Arbor is shocking. The number of reported attacks in the past nine days has been mind-numbing.
Jennifer Smith is an employee at a hoagie shop on South State Street.
"I've completely changed everything I do," she told the Detroit News. "This is probably the first time I've been worried about walking alone here."
The latest attack occurred Tuesday, when a 21-year-0ld woman went to her car on the 700 block of South State Street at 11:30 p.m. to fetch something. A man grabbed her from behind and fondled her before she managed an escape.
Police composite of the alleged suspect in the Ann Arbor attacks
Police aren't 100% certain that the attacks are the work of one man, because in some instances the victims are groped and fondled, and in some they're actually raped.
But if there is more than one person involved, police think they could be working in tandem.
Ann Arbor police chief Barnett Jones thinks the assailant---if it's one person---is a "predator" and "is doing some type of field work, lying and waiting for an opportunity" to strike.
"He knows what he's doing," Jones told the News.
That's always the scary thing about serial criminals; normally they're intelligent and have a game plan. The thrill is almost as much gotten from the prep work as it is from the crime itself.
That, and the satisfaction in the notion that the perp "fooled 'em again."
The power that someone must get from paralyzing an entire city's female population with fear must be very intoxicating.
The good news is that the more bold and brazen the assailant gets, the better chance that the police will catch him.
But how many more women have to be victimized before that happens?
The Ann Arbor serial rapist/sexual assailant will strike again, no question. These guys don't just get bored and stop.
Here's hoping he'll make the wrong move at the wrong time.