Women in the Lake Highlands community say they felt a sense of relief after police captured the man suspected of committing a series of sexual assaults in the area. Their recent alarm, however, has inspired some to keep up newly enhanced safety routines.
Lake Highlands resident Judy Evans’ eyes lit up in relief as I was the first one to inform her of the arrest. She had become more aware of the people around her once news spread of the attacks, she says, and plans to keep this same vigilance despite the capture. She says just because the police arrested the man does not mean she will go back to her old ways.
“I was being very careful who it was at the door. I would see them, and I don’t open the door for anyone that I’m not familiar with,” says Evans.
For Karen Crosson, the attacks brought to light safety mistakes she was making, mistakes she plans to continue fixing.
“I was negligent with locking back doors,” says Crosson.
Cheryl Calvin, owner of The Store in Lake Highlands, remains wary. “I’m always looking around at people, at their faces. …I’m still being cautious.”
Police Chief David Brown credits the CrimeStopper tip line, diligence of the police’s Metro Task Force, Sexual Assault Unit, Fusion Unit, Northeast Patrol, Volunteers in Patrol in the northeast Dallas area and local media with the detection and apprehension of 30-year-old Cesar Benitez. DNA evidence has not yet been processed, but police have matched a palm print to one of the crime scenes, and they do know, through previous DNA analysis, that the three attacks were connected. The suspect led the police on a chase near Walnut Hill and Central Expressway before abandoning his car, and the police ran him down on foot. An actual photo of the suspect will not be released until a photo lineup has been conducted with the victims.
“I can’t thank [those involved] enough,” Brown said at a press conference earlier. “This was a needle-in-a-haystack search.”