CLEVELAND - Cleveland police are looking at several suspects with sexual histories in the recent attacks on the city's east side, a source told NewsChannel5.
On Saturday, 20-year-old Raven Freeman was attacked on East 116th Street at about 5:30 a.m. on her way to work. Two others, 20-year-old Jazmine Trotter and 45-year-old Christine Malone, were killed last week.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office said Trotter and Malone died of blunt head trauma and cervical compression, meaning they were also strangled.
"That still doesn't lead us to believe they're connected simply because there are similarities between the victims," said Fourth District Cmdr. Deon McCaulley. "To connect them, we are going to have to know if there are similarities in the suspect information, which means DNA that might tie the two together or finger prints."
But the attack on Freeman and Trotter's death do have similarities. The suspect came up behind Freeman and pulled her to an abandoned house, where he tried to pull down her pants. Police said Trotter was found with her pants down under a porch on East 93 rd Street. Malone's body was located on Bessemer Avenue by a group of children. She was fully clothed.
"I cannot say they're connected until I have some connecting evidence," MCaulley said.
The FBI Violent Crimes Task Force has been called to assist Cleveland police with homicide investigations.
"We come together and work as a unit," said Cleveland police spokesman Sgt. Sammy Morris. "We will be using the FBI's profilers and evidence collection teams."
Police are especially interested in the people who came to Freeman's aid and possibly saved her life. Two men and a woman driving by yelled during the attack and the suspect fled.
"We believe they may have gotten a pretty good look at the suspect and if fled to a house or entered a car. We believe they may have some information that can help further this investigation," McCaulley said.
Expect a higher police presence in the morning hours.
"One of the strategies that we are using is to maximize our enforcement efforts so, yes, you will see more police officers out and about," McCaulley said. Police are urging people in the area not walk along if they can avoid it.
"Exercise personal safety habits," McCaulley said. "The public has drawn line and they're not going to tolerate this in the community."