NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 1/18/2011 5:09:31 AM ET 2011-01-18T10:09:31

Detectives are searching for a man who they believe sexually assaulted seven women since New Year's Day and tried to attack another, Detroit's police chief said Monday.

The first attack happened before dawn on Jan. 1, and the most recent attack happened at 2:40 a.m. Thursday, hours before volunteers hit the streets to warn women and to circulate a sketch of the suspect, Chief Ralph Godbee said at a news conference.

"We don't want people to be gripped by fear. ... We're not going to let this monster cripple us," Godbee said. "I think we all have the same goal in mind, and that's to bring this predator to justice. We're not going to stop until we catch this individual."

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NBC station WDIV reported that the incidents have been linked due to similar elements that suggest the attacker's modus operandi.

The victims were forced at gunpoint to secluded locations where they were robbed and sexually assaulted, according to WDIV.

The suspect is described as black, in his 30s and about 5 feet 9 inches tall. All of the victims are black, and they range in age from 17 to 33 years old, the chief said.

All of the attacks happened about five miles from downtown Detroit, and in most cases, the victims were waiting for a bus or walking to or from a bus stop, Godbee said.

Police on Monday released two new sketches of the suspect that incorporate facial details gleaned from interviews with his most recent victims.

Nine men questioned
Godbee said "critical" results from tests on evidence should be available with days, but he declined to elaborate on how they would help the investigation.

Nine men have been questioned and subsequently arrested for other offenses, including parole violations and gun crimes, Godbee said.

The chief especially appealed to men to look out for women who could be vulnerable.

"If we stop the attacks, we're pleased but we're not done with our work," the chief said, referring to an arrest and charges.

The Associated Press, NBC News station WDIV and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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