MIAMI – Police were in the middle of a massive manhunt Wednesday for the suspected "Shenandoah Rapist" who escaped from a correctional center in Miami-Dade County.
Reynaldo Elias Rapalo, 34, is accused of committing a series of rapes in Southern Florida before he was captured in 2003. He is the sole suspect in the rapes of seven victims, ages 11 to 79, and in the attempted attacks of four others since September 2002. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Rapalo is considered armed and dangerous.
Rapalo escaped from an opening in his sixth-floor cell at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, The Miami Herald reported, citing a Miami-Dade corrections spokeswoman. It is unclear what tools he used to burst out.
Rapalo apparently climbed through a ceiling vent, strung some bedsheets together and scaled down from the roof to the ground. Another inmate, Idanio Bravo, 38, also tried to escape, but he broke his leg and was caught on the roof of the building, police said. Bravo is facing charges of sexual battery on a minor, The Herald reported.
The Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center is located in an urban area near the Miami International Airport.
Besides the seven rapes, Rapalo has been charged with attacking at least four more women. Rapalo was caught after DNA evidence showed he tried to attack a woman hanging her laundry in the middle of the day, police said.
Rapalo is an illegal immigrant who lives in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami; police are worried that more crimes may have been committed that went unreported by other illegal immigrants.
According to The Herald, city police officers have been assigned to the houses of the victims. The Miami police chief said some victims have moved back to their home countries in places like Mexico and Honduras.
Plainclothes detectives and uniformed officers, aided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Highway Patrol, are searching Miami-Dade looking for the rape suspect. Police officers are also monitoring airports and bus terminals.
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
FOX News' Steve Harrigan contributed to this report.