Ottawa police say they are actively pursuing the more than 100 tips they have received from the public since issuing a warning about a serial predator last week.
Police chief Charles Bordeleau said Thursday three sexual assaults over the past 17 months are linked to one unknown suspect, and that seven other cases may be linked to the same suspect as well.
The victims were between the ages of 18 and 30, and all of them had been walking alone before they were attacked. All three were choked, police said.
Police also shared two previously released composite sketches and asked the public for any information on the suspect.
Sgt. Richard Dugal, one of the investigators on the case, said police have assigned a dedicated team of police officers to the file, including Major Crimes detectives.
They have also contacted the Ontario Provincial Police behavioural sciences unit in an effort to develop a profile of the suspect, though Dugal would not discuss specifics of the case.
Suspect driven by 'thrill-seeking', says psychiatrist
University of Ottawa forensic psychiatrist Dr. John Bradford has studied sexual predators. Though he is not involved in the case, he believes the suspect can't stop himself.
"These people are driven sexually, they are driven by predatory behaviour which is exciting and thrill-seeking behaviour," said Bradford.
"I don't think he's trying to get caught, but I think he's more and more hooked on what he's doing," he said.
Police brought the case to the public last week not only to get help identifying a suspect, but also to make people aware of the potential danger, said Dugal.
"We've upped the ante to make people more aware, for a number of reasons," said Dugal. "One is we had three confirmed cases that we want the public to be very mindful of as well as others with similarities and we took that opportunity to bring that forward so that people are aware and can make educated decisions."
Though police have received many tips, Dugal said police are encouraging the public to provide any information they think might help.
Incidents happened between August 2012 and October 2013
The assaults happened between August 2012 and October 2013 on Banner Road, Lancaster Road and Aldea Avenue. Police sources said the cases were linked with DNA evidence.
- Aug. 5, 2012, at about 3 a.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted at her home on Banner Road.
- June 26, 2013, at about 10 p.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted on a footpath between Lancaster Road and Erinbrook Crescent.
- Oct. 7, 2013, at about 9:50 p.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted on Aldea Avenue near Lasalle Street.
While police are confident the suspect is linked to three files, they believe he may be linked to seven others:
- Late March 2013, at about 5 a.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted in the 2600 block of Draper Avenue. In this case, police released surveillance video from inside the apartment building.
- June 1, 2013, at about 4 a.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted on Laurier Avenue near Chapel Street.
- Sept. 1, 2013, at about 4:30 a.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted in a park at 6376 Bilberry Dr.
- Oct. 16, 2013, at about 10:45 p.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted in the 2400 block of Baseline Road between Woodroffe Avenue and Greenbank Road.
- Dec. 17, 2013, at about 11:15 p.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted on Broadway Avenue near Craig Street.
- Dec. 18, 2013, at about 11:15 p.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted in a park near the 1100 block of Bordeau Grove.
- Jan. 5, 2014, at about 10 p.m.: A woman was sexually assaulted in the 600 block of Chapman Mills Drive.
The suspect is described as possibly being of Middle Eastern descent with short dark hair. He spoke English during the attacks and possibly a foreign language.
He's in his 20s, standing five feet nine inches tall to five feet eleven inches tall (175 to 180 cm) with a slim to medium build. He had trimmed facial hair, thick eyebrows and a prominent nose.
Again, all three victims were choked. Police said the suspect "may show a preference for that type of behaviour in his personal and intimate relationships."