Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2017

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St. Louis police confirm former LV resident is suspect in rapes

Dennis N. Rabbitt, 42, of Cedar Hill, is suspected of being the so-called "South Side Rapist." He has been the target of a nationwide manhunt since being charged over the weekend in the rape of a Jefferson County woman. He was last reported seen in southwest Missouri.

"We conducted new DNA tests, and it's a 100 percent match," St. Louis Police Chief Ronald Henderson said Monday.

Actually, DNA results show there is only a one in 5.5 billion chance that the South Side Rapist could be anyone but Rabbitt. The St. Louis circuit attorney's office, which had asked for extra test results Monday, is reviewing the city cases linked to the serial rapist. Charges are expected within a few days, police said.

Media had dubbed the attacker the South Side Rapist because 10 of the victims lived in the relatively crime-free neighborhoods of south St. Louis. But evidence has linked him to attacks since 1988 in St. Louis and Jefferson counties, as well as the cities of St. Charles, Arnold, and across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

Henderson said police detective Randy Sasenger broke the investigation, which had long befuddled teams of detectives.

"He stayed on the case," Henderson said. "He deserves all kinds of credit. Absolutely."

In the middle of last month, police got a call from a man who said he was chasing another man, whom he had seen peering into windows in St. Louis. Police told the caller to give up the chase but take down the license plate number of the man's vehicle.

Sasenger, 43, who has been working on the South Side Rapist investigation for more than a year, got the tip and found out that the license plate in question had been transferred several times from other vehicles.

Sasenger found Rabbitt on Oct. 29 and asked for a saliva swab. A DNA test can be run on a swab, providing an easy, convenient way for police to eliminate - or identify - suspects.

Rabbitt apparently fled the area a few days later. Police got the DNA match on Friday and since then have been looking for him.

On Monday, a second DNA test was run at the request of the circuit attorney's office. And detectives pored over reports and records, trying to learn more about Rabbitt's background.

Rabbitt has had numerous addresses and numerous jobs over the years, police said.

He lived in Las Vegas on a couple of occasions in the 1990s. Police in Henderson, Nev., a Las Vegas suburb, have been investigating a series of rapes in their community and were checking on Rabbitt as well, they said.

Based on the information St. Louis police obtained about Rabbitt, Jefferson County authorities got a warrant Saturday charging him in an attack at a shopping center in High Ridge. An 18-year-old woman told police she was raped by knifepoint in the back seat of a car on Jan. 15. The victim has identified Rabbitt as her attacker, police said.

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