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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Miami Rapist Has Been Tied to Four Cases by DNA

Aired June 12, 2003 - 19:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the stress level is rising along with the summer heat in Miami, where as serial rapist could be on the loose. The suspect's DNA has linked him to four rape cases, two of them involving children.
CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us live from a neighborhood meeting where community leaders are warning citizens what to watch out for -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson.

More than 100 people have turned out for this town hall meeting that was called on very short notice, proving, according to meeting organizers, that there is a great deal of concern here, a great deal of concern in this community, where police say all of the attacks occurred.

Police are already acknowledging to this group of residents that there may have been "flaws and inconsistencies" in their investigation of six sexual assaults, problems they promise to correct as they hunt for a rapist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

We'll be in the area all the time so.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Miami police spreading the word about their hunt for a man authorities call a serial rapist, a man linked by DNA, police say, to four rapes, two women and two girls, as young as 11. All victims attacked in the same neighborhood. Two more matches are pending.

Now there are mounting questions about whether police could have warned the public sooner about the string of assaults that began last fall.

TOMAS REGALDO, COMMISSIONER: The people should know. I mean had the people known that there were two cases in that area, probably, you know, they would have been, I guess, more careful.

CANDIOTTI: Police defend their actions, saying they do not publicize every rape.

DET. DELRISH MOSS, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: You have to sit down even from a detective's perspective and determine whether your ability to work this case says that you're going to send it out or are you going to keep information close to the vest and start working. These are judgment calls that are made every day.

CANDIOTTI: At a commission hearing, police also under fire for how quickly they made DNA comparisons.

REGALDO: Don't you think that something went wrong there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we're conducting the internal review, as well as the DNA issue. We're conducting that review to make sure that it doesn't happen again, number one; number two, why did it happen and where did we drop the ball, if, in fact, we did.

CANDIOTTI: Police also released this computer drawing of a shirt they say was worn by the rape suspect this week, hoping the flashy design will be recognized.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Police credit the public with providing plenty of tips. So far authorities say they have collected at least 75 DNA samples provided voluntarily, but so far no matches -- Anderson.

COOPER: Susan, the Chiron underneath you says a city in fear. I'm curious to know, I mean how scared are people there? I know you're outside this town hall meeting. What are they talking about there?

CANDIOTTI: Well, some are and some aren't. I did ask that question specifically, but some of the residents here say, look, we simply want answers about what went wrong here and they're not living in fear. On the other hand, there are some people who have a great deal of concern, especially those parents with young children who are very concerned about their kids being out of school for the summer and their having the potential for a serious serial rapist on the loose.

So the range of emotions here pretty much runs the gamut.

COOPER: I understand.

Susan Candiotti, thanks for that report.

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