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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
DNA breakthrough in 80s rape hunt
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All attacks happened in and around Rotherham
Police are stepping up their search for a rapist who attacked seven women in South Yorkshire during the 1980s.

New DNA evidence prompted police to carry out a review of the attacks, which happened in the Rotherham area between 1983 and 1986.

Police believe the man had a shoe fetish and bound and gagged his victims with stockings.

They are appealing to former partners who may be aware of his fetish to come forward with information.

These attacks were serious criminal offences committed by a cool and calculating offender

Detective Superintendent Ernie Roper

The seven women, aged between 18 and 53, were attacked as they walked home from nightclubs and "fun" pubs.

He approached the women from behind and stole handbags and jewellery.

In all but one case he also stole the women's shoes.

The attacker then forced the victims to a secluded area nearby, where they were bound and gagged before being raped.

Police believe there may be more victims who have not come forward to report attacks.

Detective Superintendent Ernie Roper said he is confident the same man committed all the attacks.

Incident room

He said: "I have no information available to suggest the offender is still active but these attacks were serious criminal offences committed by a cool and calculating offender.

"The attacks still affect the lives of the victims and their families and I am determined to identify the man behind them."

It is not known why the attacks stopped in 1986, but police believe the offender may be in prison, has moved abroad, or died.

A team of officers is carrying out a detailed search of police and court records based on what is known about the attacker.

An incident room has also been set up at Main Street police station in Rotherham.

Scientific evidence

Mr Roper said: "I am confident the public will help us achieve this objective.

"I appeal to members of the public, including former associates and girlfriends of the suspect, for any suggestions as to his identity based on the description and profile.

"I can eliminate suspects based on new scientific evidence.

"I also appeal to past and present persons working within the criminal justice system.

"This man will have been well known more likely as a thief and not a sex attacker."

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