Friday, July 12, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
A rapist has molested a young girl in the Charleston Heights area, and police suspect it may be the same man who has sexually assaulted four girls across town.
A 12-year-old girl was sleeping early Wednesday when she was awakened by a man with a gun. The man put his hand over her mouth, held her down at gunpoint and sexually assaulted her for more than an hour.
"He kept whispering to her, 'If you make any noise, you're dead. Do you understand? I'll hurt your mom and your brothers,'" her mother said. "She told him, 'I understand, I understand.' She said she prayed the whole time. The police and counselors (at the Rape Crisis Center) said she did the right thing. She stayed alive."
Unlike the other four incidents in an eastern section of the valley, the most recent victim provided police with detailed descriptions of her assailant and his vehicle.
Police are looking for a white late-model pickup with black-tinted windows and a step-side flat bed with a black snap-on cover. The suspect is described as a 6-foot, "very heavy" white man, 23 to 25 years old, with brown eyes and freckles.
The earlier attacks, beginning on April 14, occurred within half a mile of one another in a neighborhood near Charleston and Nellis boulevards, police said. In those cases, the rapist wore gloves and covered his face.
"He was wearing a hood over his head with the eyes cut out," the girl's mother said.
The 12-year-old told police she saw the man drive by her house about four times Wednesday after the incident.
Her mother believes he had been watching their house for at least a month. The mother saw a man sitting in the same truck parked in front of their house when she arrived home about a month ago.
"He knew she had brothers," the mother said. "He knew her father and I were separated. He knew I was alone and he knew she slept downstairs."
One of the girl's brothers stayed downstairs watching television until 1 a.m. on the night of the attack. The girl told police that the man entered the house about 1:15 a.m., after the brother had gone upstairs.
It was the first time the girl had forgotten to lock the sliding glass door downstairs.
"He must have been watching her," her mother said.
The president of the Charleston Heights Neighborhood Association said the rapist has "messed with the wrong community."
"The one thing that we do have and that he is messing with is something he's not used to. We're organized. This whole neighborhood is being alerted. We are strong. We'll get him. He'll either book and cook and get out of here, or he'll get caught. In our neighborhood, we just figure he's a cockroach and we don't want him here. We'll all be watching for him."
Charleston Heights is roughly bordered by Buffalo Drive on the west, Decatur Boulevard on the east, Washington Avenue on the north and Charleston Boulevard on the south.
The man stayed inside the girl's room for more than an hour, her mother said. He made her put different clothes on and told her what to do while he sexually assaulted her.
"He hurt her," the mother said.
When it was over and the man left the girl's room, the rapist didn't leave the house right away.
"She heard the sliding glass door close about 30 minutes later," she said.
Because he threatened to kill her brothers and parents if she told, the girl didn't tell her mother until hours later, about 1 p.m.
"After he left, she was afraid to do anything," her mother said. "He said he was going to be watching the house and if he saw any police cars, he was going to come and hurt her."
About 5 a.m., the girl went upstairs and crawled into her mother's bed and told her she couldn't sleep.
"She didn't tell me right away," her mother said. "I'll bet you there are girls out there who haven't told."
Early in the afternoon she called her mother at work and said she didn't feel well. So the girl's father picked her up at home and drove her to her mother's office.
"I asked her what was wrong and, finally, she started crying and told me," she said. "She wants him caught. She said, 'Mom, the only thing good about this is if he gets caught he won't hurt anybody else.'"
Sexual assault Sgt. Jim Phillip said "the investigation is just beginning."
But he said the initial findings indicate the circumstances are similar to the eastern area serial rapist.
"The method of operation looks the same," Phillip said. "But whether or not he's the same man, we don't know. It's the only one in the Charleston Heights area we know of."
But detectives told the mother they believe "he's changed neighborhoods and it's the same man," she said. "They said they were getting real close to catching him and he quit. Then he popped up again in our neighborhood.
"My daughter said she wants to tell the whole neighborhood. She doesn't want anyone else to get hurt."
Phillip encouraged citizens to lock their doors and windows.
"Everyone thinks they're the only ones with a rapist," he said. "They don't understand that the reason these people are being sexually assaulted is they're not locking their doors."
Meanwhile, the 12-year-old, who is going through counseling, has thrown away all her clothing that the man touched, ripped down her curtains "because at one point he stood behind them, and disinfected her room," her mother said.
"She's going around with Lysol spray, disinfecting everything, and she feels like she's in control."