There's been a major break in the search for an accused serial rapist. Police say they have identified a suspect in one case but that man is still on the run.
Maintenance workers at a North Austin apartment complex at 8033 Gessner Dr. are the ones who put a name to the police sketch that was released Wednesday afternoon. The face, they said, belongs to Edgar Casas, which is why his name now appears on an arrest warrant for an alleged sexual assault that took place April 22.
For residents like Octavia Scales, the break, like the metal fence around her parking lot, provided some relief but not enough to ease her fears.
"It's been pretty scary, coming out of the house. I don't even come out after 7 p.m. since I heard about the news, I'm glad the guy is finally identified. I'll feel safe once he is off the street," Scales.
Adding to her anxiety is information that at one time Edgar Casas lived just across the street at 408 E. Wonsley in apartments with his step-mother. According to the arrest warrant, Edgar Casas was a person of interest in another sexual assault case that happened last summer. The picture that investigators took of him then was used, they say to identify him in the April 22 case.
While the search for Casas got underway Detectives also tried to determine if he is also responsible for a series of other attacks. There are a total of eight cases under investigation dating back to mid-August. Several took place at apartments near Cameron Rd and Hwy 290. Another cluster is located along Lamar north of Hwy 183. Some of the victims were even with their children when the assaults too place.
According to police, the attacks either took place in parking lots or in apartment laundry rooms. Investigators say the guy they are looking for pretends to be a maintenance man or a contractor looking for work.
At several apartments managers have employees on alert. Some were given radios to report anything suspicious and informational flyers are being given to residents.
"We are just trying to do the buddy system and stuff and make sure people are aware of what's going on around here our maintenance guys are on the lookout they know what's going on, our onsite courtesy officer knows what's going on so everyone is aware and be safe," said Erica Soto a member of the management team at one apartment complex.
Austin Police are also trying to increase their visibility in the areas where the attacks occurred. But for those who work and live here the best defense is to remain alert.
"Yeah, I will carry my mace now," said Virginia Grimaldo.