Philly police renew search for 'Fairmount Park Rapist'

"He's still out there," 15 years after his first attack, says SVU detective.

Kristen Johanson
May 01, 2018 - 2:10 pm
series of artist renderings of the "Fairmount Park Rapist"

Philadelphia Police Department


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- It has been 15 years since the man known as the "Fairmount Park Rapist" first struck the area, terrorizing female joggers and walkers on running trails around the city. The case has never been solved, and it resulted in the murder of one woman. 

The first attack was on a jogger in the spring of 2003. A man on a purple metallic bicycle, ambushed a woman jogging along Kelly Drive, near Fountain Green Drive, and threatened her with a knife.

"This person came upon her and actually took her down to the river's edge, where she was assaulted," said Detective Kevin Gage with the Special Victims Unit. "A knife was used to threaten the victim."

Authorities posted flyers with a sketch of the assailant, interviewed people along the trail, and followed each lead that was called in.

"We started in the immediate area and just kept fanning out," Gage said. "[He was] possibly Hispanic, because of an accent they detected. They gave a description that he was 5'8" with stocky to medium build."

The victim told police that the man had an earring in his left ear and a widow's peak along his hairline. Gage said he could be 45-50 years old.

Months later, he struck again, on the west side of the park.

On July 13, 2003, medical student Rebecca Park was reported missing. She had called her boyfriend around 4 p.m. to tell him she was going for a run and would be over at his house later. 

Park never showed.

Two days later, her body was found along the 3500 block of Conshohocken Avenue, near the River Park House Condos.

"She was suffocated by the male," Gage said.

That October, the rapist tried again, grabbing a jogger along West River Drive. 

"The third victim was grabbed from behind," Gage said. However, she was able to get away and call for help.

Time passed, and leads dried up. Then, four years later, the rapist assaulted another victim, along a trail in Pennypack Park.

He has never been caught, but DNA evidence has linked all four incidents.  Detectives have run the DNA evidence through CODIS, the national database system, several times over the years.  But with no luck.

"He's still out there," Gage said. "Been around for a long time now, and certainly something we'd like to close out."

Anyone who recognizes the suspect, or who may have some information, is encouraged to contact the Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3263 or 215-685-3264, or to leave an anoymous tip online.