Police: Neighborhood Watch Member Linked to at Least Four South Dallas Rapes

Police searching for man whose DNA matched to four rape cases

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    Dallas Police Department's Maj. Jeff Cotner provided an update Monday night on 38-year-old Van Dralan Dixson, the man who police say DNA evidence ties to four sexual assaults in South Dallas.

    Dallas police are searching for a neighborhood watch member they have tied to at least four rapes in what police believe are a string of connected sexual assaults in South Dallas.

    On Saturday, police identified 38-year-old Van Dralan Dixson as a suspect in connection with one of nine sexual assaults in South Dallas, saying there was a DNA match from one of the cases.

    In a press conference on Monday, Maj. Jeff Cotner, with the Dallas Police Department, said laboratory tests came back linking Dixson to three additional sexual assaults. 

    Four arrest warrants for aggravated sexual assault have been issued for Dixson. Each warrant carries with it a $1 million bond. 

    RAW VIDEO: DPD Update on South Dallas Rapes

    [DFW] RAW VIDEO: DPD Update on South Dallas Rapes
    Dallas Police Maj. Jeff Cotner provides an update Monday night on Van Dralan Dixson, the man who is suspected in four sexual assaults in South Dallas.

    Cotner said investigators are awaiting more DNA results to come back on the other assaults.

    Cotner said they learned about Dixson's connection through a Crime Stoppers tip received on Sept. 4. Officers received the tip and brought Dixson into the Dallas Police Department for a DNA sample before allowing him to return to his residence.

    Detectives searched Dixson's home and vehicle, a 2003 Saturn, but no charges were filed at the time, Cotner said. Authorities are not discussing what they discovered in those searches.

    Dallas police are working with federal authorities on this case, Cotner said.

    Cotner said authorities do not know where Dixson is at this time.

    Anyone who knows Dixson's whereabouts is urged to contact Dallas police. 

    Police said Dixson is black, 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 185 pounds. Investigators are asking for the public's assistance should anyone see him or know where he may be located.   

    Crime Stoppers is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information the arrest and indictment. If you have information you can remain anonymous just call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477).

    In addition to a $5,000 reward from Crime Stoppers, Oak Farms has also pledged $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the attacker.

    Cotner said that even though a suspect has been identified, they continue to investigate all leads in the string of sexual assaults.

    Cotner said Alan Mason, who was identified as a person of interest by Dallas PD on Sept. 5, remains a person of interest. Police have obtained DNA from Mason to rule him out as a person of interest, according to Cotner.

    "Red Flags" For Neighbors

    Neighbor Tasha Prince claimed investigators had questioned Dixson, but let him go. Dallas police are not confirming they questioned Dixson.

    Prince said that officers talked with Dixson last week after police put out an alert about a serial rapist targeting women in the Fair Park area.

    “Very disappointing to me.  This man lives one door down from me, and I'm angry, and I'm upset that they let it get this far,” said Prince. “From the time they took him down for questioning, that should've raised some red flags.  His priors should have alarmed them to let them know that there's something not right about this this man. He kind of fits our M.O.”

    She said the 38-year-old cooperated with investigators at that time, but hasn’t been seen since.

    Prince and residents in the Mill City neighborhood association now know that the man acting as their crime watch captain has a criminal record. Dixson's record dates back to 1992 when Dixson was arrested for sexual assault. Those charges were dropped.  Now, two decades later, the accused rapist is on the run.

    Four weeks ago, Dixson was arrested for apparently pointing a gun at someone. NBC 5 has learned, at the time of his arrest on the gun charge, Dixson used an address on Oberlin Drive, though neighbors said he hasn’t lived at that address for at least two years.

    “He is still getting mail here, from lawyers," explained David Lewis, who now lives at the home Dixson was using as a home address. "My girlfriend was sending it back to return to sender.”

    The idea of Dixson carrying a weapon isn't strange to Prince. She said Dixson would arm himself at night and patrol their streets. He claimed it was to keep them safe.

    “We know he’d have a gun in his pocket, because he’s shown it to us. Everyone around here knows he carries a gun. We all think he's carrying it because he's protecting the neighborhood, but he's carrying it because he's been preying on the neighborhood himself,” said Prince.

    Neighbors said Dixson was so bold, he even went to the meeting put on by police to warn everyone about the serial rapist.

    “He meant the neighborhood so much good, but only to find out he was part of the problem.  I think he use that to fool all of us,” Prince said.

    Searching for Suspected Rapist

    Dallas police say Dixson dropped off his kids with a relative and then vanished.Police are now searching for Dixson, having found his vehicle abandoned in a parking lot in Garland on Sunday.

    Dixson's former mother-in-law Dorothy Fields describes him as an involved father who loved his kids. She said he would take and pick them up from school and extra-curricular activities.

    Pastor Kym Montgomery with Praise Cathedral said he started coming to her church over the summer saying he wanted to turn his life around.  For the last year or so, he and three of his four children have lived in a home he had built through Habitat for Humanity, according to Montgomery.

    Montgomery last saw Dixson on Sunday, Sept. 1. She said the only thing out of the ordinary was that he parked his car across the street rather than in the parking lot of the small church. She also said he went to the prayer line during service.

    Montgomery told NBC 5 News crews she is concerned Dixson will kill himself before he'll be arrested and that, in addition to dropping his children off with relatives, he handed over items like shot and medical records. She is asking for him to do the right thing and turn himself in to police.

    Chris Van Horn, Ray Villeda, and Kendra Lyn contributed to this report.