WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Police Chief Ralph Evangelous called a man who is preying on other men in downtown Wilmington a “predator.”
In an interview with WECT’s Ashlea Kosikowski, the chief said the victims are being re-interviewed, however, they do not remember much from the attacks.
We first reported earlier this week that police have linked eleven cases dating back to January 2018.
Seven victims serve in the U.S. military, either in the Marines or Army. The victims in at least four of the attacks may have been sexually assaulted.
“What is common about the eleven is a cognitive disability,” Evangelous said. “They don’t remember anything after leaving various bars. There’s no specific bar, just various bars downtown.”
He said he believes the victims may have been drugged. Because of that, police don’t know the locations of the assaults.
“We know they were all drinking all night and it was at closing time," he said. "We know they left alone. And they wake up alone.”
Evangelous explained why it took a while for police to connect the attacks.
“Back in 2018, these things were reported as vandalisms, simple assault, which are not unusual downtown at a bar closing,” he said. “So, as this thing started percolating again this summer, we started going back and re-reading reports and there’s a specific M.O. that I cannot talk about because it’s critical to the case.”
He said investigators made the connection about a month ago because the crimes started escalating. However, Evangelous said there have not been any further attacks since police connected the crimes.
Because several of the victims are in the military, the Wilmington Police Department is working with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division to conduct new interviews with those who were assaulted.
“We are aware of the current situation in Wilmington and are advising our Marines to be extra cautious during their liberty,” First Lieutenant Andrew Martino said in response to the investigation.
Evangelous believes there may be more victims who have not come forward yet because of the nature of the crimes.
“The other problem you have going here is most of these are military personnel; they don’t want to report this. They don’t want to talk about this because it goes against the whole macho thing. I get it. I understand that. But this guy is a predator," he said.
If you have any information, please contact the Wilmington Police Department at 343-3609 or send an anonymous tip to Text-A-Tip by texting “CRIMES” (274637) and starting the text with “Tip708.”