DALLAS – Dallas police were searching Monday for a crime watch volunteer whose car was found abandoned after he was charged in a sexual assault that investigators believe may be linked to as many as eight other attacks.
Van Dralan Dixson, 38, has been charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault in connection to a rape and robbery in Fair Park, just south of downtown Dallas. Police said nine women have been faced similar attacks in the area since June — including six in about the last two weeks — and that DNA evidence from at least one matched Dixson.
DNA tests were still pending in the other cases, police said. Dixson was charged Saturday, and his abandoned car was located the next day in a parking lot in Garland, a suburb northeast of Dallas.
Neighbors said he would patrol the streets several times a week, presumably for his duty as a crime watch block captain.
"He just walks every night, all night," one resident, Billy Washington, told Dallas television station WFAA. "Every time I would look out my window, or out my door, he was walking."
Dixson has since January been part of the area's neighborhood crime watch group, the Mill City Community Association, according to the group's president, Alendra Lyons. Lyons didn't return messages Monday from The Associated Press.
The group said Dixson's duties were limited to telling neighbors about the association, not patrolling at night — but neighbors told The Dallas Morning News that he was referred to as "neighborhood watch," and it seemed he was patrolling the neighborhood almost every night.
State criminal records show Dixson was arrested and convicted of aggravated robbery in 1993. But he was also arrested as recently as last month on a deadly conduct charge, according to Dallas County records.
County records also show that he filed for divorce three years ago, and it was finalized a few months later. A judge awarded Dixson custody of the couple's three children, who are now 21, 8 and 6.
Dixson's attorney during the divorce, Tiombe Jones, said Monday that she didn't remember anything particular about Dixson or the divorce proceeding. Messages left on a cellphone listed for Dixson's ex-wife were not immediately returned.
Authorities have said they believe one suspect committed the nine sex assaults that have been reported in the Fair Park area this summer. In each, the attacker approached his victims in the early morning hours, forced them to secluded areas nearby, and then robbed and sexually assaulted them.
The assailant in each case was armed with a handgun, wore shorts and a T-shirt, and masked his face using various types of cloth, according to police. The victims said they were approached on foot.
A $15,000 reward has been offered for information leading to arrests and an indictment in the cases.