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High-Tech Cops and Guardian Angels Hunt Ski Mask Rapist

December 2, 1987

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ The Guardian Angels, self-appointed crime fighters, have passed out more than 12,000 fliers with a wrong sketch after faulting police for not catching the ″ski mask rapist″ who has attacked at least 30 women.

An Angels leader said Tuesday the group would rectify its mistake, but detectives said the error emphasizes the difficulty police face hunting a rapist who has left few clues.

For more than three years, the rapist has attacked women, mostly young, blond professionals living or working alone, in communities throughout Silicon Valley.

The rapist, believed to be in his late 20s, wearing a dark blue ski mask and gloves and wielding a semi-automatic handgun, meticulously plans his crimes, said Diana Keller, legal coordinator for the Valley Rape Crisis Center.

″To not have been caught for as long as it’s been, I think he must really be very good at what he’s doing,″ she said.

Police say they have no fingerprints, no car to trace and no other evidence at the crime scenes. Only one victim got a clear look at the rapist and police are not certain they have an accurate sketch.

″We’re the most heavily computerized police department in America,″ said police spokesman Dwight Messimer. ″The detectives have tried every form of linking (the victims) and analyzing the crimes and haven’t come up with anything.

″That’s what aggravates me about the Guardian Angels,″ Messimer said. ″They come to town and make all these allegations about the incompetence and lack of priority and the disinterest of the police. We’ve got two detectives assigned to this case full time, and every city around here is working on it.″

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who has assembled 100 members of his mostly teen-age group to pass out sketches of the rapist and patrol the streets, said, ″no one’s saying (the police) are not doing the job, but I don’t feel they have made this priority No. 1 and thrown everything into the battle.″

Sliwa said he was told by police in Los Altos, Mountain View and East San Jose that they had no sketch of the rapist to give him. Instead, Sliwa used a sketch printed in a local newspaper, which he learned Tuesday shows a man with longer, curlier hair and a fuller face and neck than the official composite drawing being distributed by the San Jose Police.

Sliwa said he would print 20,000 fliers with the correct sketch to be distributed by his volunteers. He also said the Angels will stay on the scene ″for as long as it takes to catch this cretin″ and will conduct self- defense seminars for women.

Some women in the area welcome the Angels, who have gained a national reputation by guarding subways and buses and hunting rapists and killers in other cities. Sliwa said the group has 5,000 members in 60 cities.

″I’m glad you’re here,″ said Dolores Fieldman, a Palo Alto resident who spoke with Sliwa at the group’s makeshift headquarters in Mountain View. ″People are scared to death in my neighborhood. In the apartment where I live some ladies are afraid to go to the spa by themselves.″

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