2011 Manhattan attack victim speaks out in hopes others share with police

Carly Willis/KSN

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNW) – Dara Bitler was attacked in 2011 by a man hiding out by her Manhattan apartment, but fought back and walked away with only a black eye and a scary story.

Bitler was a student at K-State, enjoying a night with friends in January of 2011 while on holiday break from classes. Some time around 2 a.m., her friends left and she realized she left her phone charger in her car. She locked her apartment door, but still to this day doesn’t know why.

After retrieving her charger, she was on her way up to her second-story apartment when she saw a man hiding by the balcony. Bitler did what many might do, and asked if the man needed help.

“Next thing you know, he just slammed me against the wall, and put his hand over my mouth and tried to start pulling my jeans down and that’s when I just started screaming, I mean I didn’t know what else to do. I just kept screaming and screaming and screaming hoping someone would hear me and then he just punched me in the face and told me to be quiet,” Bitler said.

A resident on the floor above Bitler’s apartment opened their door and the man ran off.

Bitler is a former KSN employee and is sharing her story in hopes others speak out.

Yesterday, KSN told you about a man currently being pursued by Riley County and Lawrence Police Departments. The man is said to have raped 12 students and attempted to rape two others, all of which were students at KSU and KU. The rapes begin in October 2000 and the last known case is said to have happened in July 2015, but there is a gap of time between 2008 and 2015 when there are no reported rapes or attempts that match the suspect’s motive operandi. Police are curious if there are other rapes and assaults that occurred in that gap of time. Bitler’s, fits the bill.

Bitler describes a man around 6 feet tall and heavier set. Victims of the serial college rapist have described a man of similar stature.

She also has reason to believe the man put prior surveillance on her and her habits before the attack. The Kansas college rapist put surveillance on all victims beforehand and consistently attacked between 2:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. at off campus homes.

“I can’t say without a doubt in my mind that this is the same person, because I don’t know, but based on the information…that the police have shared so far, I believe that it’s the same person,” Bitler said, “I just think with locking my door…that may have saved me but I can’t be sure about that you never know what was going to happen and whoever opened my door was probably my guardian angel.”

One characteristic Bitler remembers of the man who attacked her was that he had lots of acne.

Authorities have set up a website with several phone numbers to call if you have information about the Kansas college rapist. You could be entitled to a cash reward for information.

Bitler wants others to speak out, just as she plans to contact police and share her story.

“My heart goes out to them so much, I can’t even begin to comprehend what they’ve been through. I know that all of our stories are different, I think the most important thing to remember is it’s okay to tell people what happened, it’s okay to share your story because your
story matters and your story is important,” Bitler said.

Call 785-539-7777 or toll-free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) with information.