Man arrested in sexual assault related to investigation of Phoenix serial predator case

Thursday, September 7th 2006, 6:18 am
By: News On 6

PHOENIX (AP) _ Police investigating eight deadly attacks blamed on the ``Baseline Killer'' arrested a man in a sexual assault connected to the case, authorities said Thursday.

Police have forensic evidence to connect the 42-year-old man, whose identity was not released, to one case from last year, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman with the Phoenix Police Department. Hill said the man was being held for investigation of sexual assault and kidnapping.

``We still consider all those other cases open at this point,'' Hill said. ``The investigation is continuing and we have a lot of work ahead of us.''

The man was booked into jail while witnesses from the 2005 attack were called to look at a photo line-up, Hill said.

The man's wife, Wendy Carr, told The Associated Press that police had arrested the wrong man.

``My husband is innocent,'' Carr said in a telephone interview. ``This is a huge miscarriage of justice. And they have an innocent man in prison. This is all a mistake. He shouldn't be in prison for something he didn't do.''

Hill said police first got the man's name in mid-July but didn't identify him as a possible suspect in the sexual assault case until last weekend. They kept him under surveillance until his arrest Wednesday. Officers had spoken to the man previously, Hill said, but noted police talked to many people during the course of the investigation.

Hill said the man has a criminal record, but he wouldn't elaborate.

``His arrest is a good thing,'' Mayor Phil Gordon said. ``Any individual who has been arrested for rape and kidnapping is a violent monster off the street. That's a good day.''

The man's neighbors said that they couldn't believe he would attack anybody and that he didn't resemble the police sketch that has been widely circulated depicting the Baseline Killer as a man with dreadlocks.

They described the man, a cement worker who left early in the morning for jobs around the county, as friendly and a regular presence in his front yard where he'd keep meticulous care of his bushes and waved to people as they passed by.

Barbara Holzapfel described him as a ``wonderful guy.'' She remembered him talking to her about the Baseline Killer investigation after 37-year-old Carmen Miranda was killed June 29 at a car wash a block away.

``He would say, 'There are idiots all over the world,''' Holzapfel said.

The ``Baseline Killer'' has been linked to 23 crimes in the Phoenix metropolitan area dating to August 2005, including eight killings. The crimes also include 11 sexual assaults of women and young girls and several robberies. The earliest crimes occurred along Phoenix's Baseline Road, where the name ``Baseline Killer'' originated.

Reports show the sexual assaults ranged from fondling to rape. In many cases, victims had conversations with the man before they were attacked. He appeared to always have a gun, and often threatened to shoot and kill victims.

The Baseline Killer is also thought to wear disguises. He strikes quickly, in the dark, and generally targets people who are alone.

According to reports previously released by the Phoenix Police Department, the man in some cases asked for a ride and even said ``thank you'' after taking money. A task force of more than 100 officers and detectives has been tracking him for months.

The case is one of two serial predator cases that have shaken the Phoenix area over the past year.

In the other, dubbed the ``Serial Shooter'' investigation, police arrested Dale S. Hausner, 33, and Samuel Dieteman, 30, early last month. The roommates are charged with murder and attempted murder in 16 shootings, two of them fatal. Both pleaded not guilty.

Police believe Hausner and Dieteman took turns shooting random victims throughout the Phoenix area late at night and early in the morning. Police are investigating a total of 37 random shootings believed to be connected that killed seven people and wounded 17 since May 2005.