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New York Serial Rapist

The New York serial rapist

The New York serial rapist

A serial rapist claims victims in Buffalo, New York, and its suburbs.

For more than twenty years, a cunning serial rapist has prowled Buffalo, New York, and its suburbs.  A female victim, whose has chosen to have her identity concealed, recalled the horrific events of her attack:

“I was 17-years-old, and I was walking to summer school. I was running a little bit late, so I decided to cut through the pass.  I was almost at the end of the path and I heard something behind me…. He looked like a normal, everyday guy.  He started dragging me back into the woods, and then he started strangling me. And then I thought, that’s it. I was going to die. I really thought I’d never see any of my family again. And when he was finished, I asked him, ‘What’s going to happen?’ And he told me, ‘Nothing.’  He almost sounded sorry. And then he left.”

The reign of terror had only begun.  A few months later, in June of 1988, the rapist was lying in wait as a 16-year-old girl walked to school along an isolated railroad track.  According to Lieutenant P.W. Reinig of the Buffalo Police Department, once again the assailant double-wrapped a rope around his victim’s neck and taped her eyes shut:

“Almost a year later, another young girl was using this as a shortcut on her way to school. The same individual passed her and immediately afterwards double-wrapped a rope around her neck, gained control of her, and took her to the bush area. He forced her to place tape over her eyes. He bound her and sexually assaulted her.”

Linda Yalem was the first victim to die

Linda Yalem was the first victim to die

Within a few months, a fourth victim had been raped.  Each described the rapist as a short, stocky man in his mid-30s who had a mustache.  Four months passed.  Then, he claimed a fifth victim in a secluded location in Amherst, New York.  Captain Thomas Gould of the Amherst Police Department was one of the first investigators to arrive on the scene:

“He placed a rope around her neck. He wrapped it twice. She described him as a very powerful man. He lifted her over this fence and took her into the wooded area over here, where he bound her hands behind her back, and he placed surgical tape over her eyes. And at that point, he raped her.”

The assailant was described as stocky, with black hair and a black mustache.  According to Captain Gould, he attacked two more victims in Amherst:

“A 32-year-old female was using this path early in the morning for exercise. As she got to this point right here, a rope was placed around her neck, and she was immediately rendered unconscious.”

The woman was found one hour later, still unconscious.  Double-wrapped marks on her neck told police who they were dealing with. But this time was different.  This time he nearly killed his victim. 

22-year-old Linda Yalem was a student at the university in Buffalo when she crossed paths with the rapist.  Linda was the seventh known victim, and she was the first to die.  By Captain Gould’s account, Linda Yalem was left in the woods with her mouth and nose wrapped tight with duct tape:

“It was premeditated murder. He planned to kill her when he grabbed her that day. Once he put that tape over her nose and her mouth, there was no chance for survival.”

After Linda’s murder, the attacks stopped.  Authorities wondered if the suspect had moved, gone to prison, or even died. Then four years later, in October of 1999, a 14-year old girl was raped in Buffalo.  For Captain Gould and several other law enforcement officials, the reality of the serial rapist’s return proved difficult:

“This guy strikes so infrequently, he’s very hard to profile. Very, very difficult. He’s either got tremendous self-control, or else he’s hitting in other parts of the country that we’re not aware of.”

Update: 

More than 20 years after the so-called “Bike Path Rapist” first struck, police arrested Altemio Sanchez, whose DNA matched samples found at the crime scenes.  He was convicted of two murders and sentenced to 75 years to life.  During their investigation, police learned that Sanchez had committed two other rapes in the same park where he claimed his first victim.  They also discovered that an innocent man was serving a 35-year sentence for those two rapes.  The wrongly convicted man, Anthony Capozzi, was finally set free after serving 21 years behind bars.