Thursday, June 4, 1998 | 5:13 a.m.
Metro Police investigators are looking most extensively at one person in their search for a serial rapist that has been plaguing the valley since 1996, although the department is hesitant to identify the male as a suspect.
Without isolating the particulars that have police focusing on the specific male more than a few hundred other potential suspects, Lt. Tom Monahan spoke broadly about what piques a detective's curiosity in finding a suspect -- things such as confirming a person's whereabouts at the time of a crime, similar physical descriptions, and the providing of DNA samples.
"We are spending more energy on one than the others," Monahan said. "We are not looking at that person to become a suspect. We just have not been able to exclude the person yet."
Monahan said people are clearly within their rights to not provide police with a buckle sample, a procedure that requires a person to submit to having the inside of their mouth swiped with a cotton swab to absorb saliva which carries DNA.
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the single biological element known to science that can distinguish one human from another. It is found in bodily fluids such as saliva and semen.
"You cannot read into it guilt if a person does not wish to provide us with a buckle sample," Monahan said.
Similarities in the sexual assaults have led police to believe one man is responsible for the series of unsolved crimes that began in late 1996.
His seventh and most recent victim was asleep when the male broke into her ground-floor apartment May 18 about 4 a.m. He followed his typical pattern that morning at the Flamingo West complex, 3950 Mountain Vista St., near Flamingo Road -- he dressed completely in black, struck in the early morning hours, and selected a victim residing within Pecos Road and Mountain Vista, off Flamingo.