DALLAS (AP) — The south Dallas crime-watch volunteer accused of four rapes preyed on women as they walked late at night through the neighborhood he appeared to protect, sometimes assaulting them while he held a gun to their heads, according to police affidavits released Wednesday.
Van Dixson, 38, faces four counts of aggravated sexual assault in the attacks in his neighborhood of Fair Park, where he was known to some residents for walking the streets at night, ostensibly to watch for criminals.
Instead, according to Dallas police documents, he grabbed four women late at night and forced them to perform oral sex. The attacks were among nine this summer that police believe were committed by the same man.
In one late August attack, he allegedly raped a woman after first trying to rob her and then sending her two children away.
The woman said a masked man approached her, brandished a handgun and demanded money Aug. 30 while she was walking with her children. When she fumbled with her shirt looking for money, the woman said, the man told her children to leave and then raped her in a nearby alley.
In another June attack, he allegedly grabbed a woman who was walking home and became separated from her friend.
He demanded money from the woman, then forced her to perform oral sex while pointing a gun at her head, another affidavit says.
Finally, in a separate August attack, he forced two women walking together around the back of an abandoned home, demanded that they take off their pants and ordered them to perform oral sex, according to two other affidavits.
Dixson was arrested Tuesday in a Baton Rouge, La., motel. Officials said he was still being held Wednesday in Louisiana, and it was not clear exactly when he would be extradited to Texas.
At a news conference Wednesday evening, Police Chief David Brown described the complexity of the investigation detectives encountered before they could discern a pattern to the attacks and suspect Dixson of committing them. The explanation came in response to some community criticism over the pace of the investigation.
Brown gave a timeline of the nine assaults covered by the investigation, dating to a June 22 attack. It included almost a two-month hiatus, from June 30 to Aug. 20, when no sexual assaults were reported in the area after the first two attacks. Consequently, police had no evidence on which to base a conclusion that a serial rapist was at work, Brown said.