DALLAS (AP) — Police are searching for a crime watch volunteer who they say has been connected by DNA to at least four sexual assaults in a South Dallas neighborhood in the past two months.
Authorities took Van Dralan Dixson, 38, into custody briefly last week and obtained a DNA sample from him, but lacked evidence to bring charges at the time, police Maj. Jeff Cotner said.
Three arrest warrants issued Monday and another on Saturday charge Dixson with aggravated sexual assault in four attacks in Fair Park, southeast of downtown Dallas. DNA test results from two other attacks were pending, while DNA evidence from two more in the inner-city neighborhood were not available, Cotner said.
Federal agents were assisting city police in the manhunt, and police have interviewed friends, family, and associates for clues to Dixson’s whereabouts, Cotner said. Dixson’s car was found abandoned in Garland, a northeastern Dallas suburb, and police have sought a warrant to search the vehicle, Cotner said.
As a crime-watch volunteer, Dixson would patrol the streets several times a week, neighbors said.
“He just walks every night, all night,” one resident, Billy Washington, told Dallas television station WFAA. “Every time I would look out my window, or out my door, he was walking.”
Dixson has been part of the area’s neighborhood crime-watch group, the Mill City Community Association, since January. The group’s president, Alendra Lyons, didn’t return messages Monday from The Associated Press.
The group said Dixson’s duties were limited to telling neighbors about the association, not patrolling at night. Neighbors told The Dallas Morning News that he was referred to as “neighborhood watch,” and it seemed he was patrolling the area almost every night.
State criminal records show Dixson was arrested and convicted of aggravated robbery in 1993. He was also arrested as recently as last month on a deadly conduct charge, according to Dallas County records.
Authorities say they believe one man is responsible for the nine sexual assaults that have been reported in the Fair Park area since June. In each incident, the attacker approached his victims in the early morning hours, forced them to secluded areas nearby, then robbed and sexually assaulted them.
The assailant in each case was armed with a handgun, wore shorts and a T-shirt, and masked his face using various types of cloth, according to police. The victims said they were approached on foot.
A $15,000 reward has been offered for information leading to arrests and an indictment in the cases.