HOUSTON (FOX 26) - An accused serial rapist who was targeting Houston women in a very specific way has been caught and is behind bars. Now police are trying to find all of his victims.
Many people have dating apps at their fingertips, on their phone these days, and that’s how Houston police say this serial rapist was meeting his victims from April 2017 to August 2018. So, a number of Houston women who thought they were going out on a date were actually falling right into the trap of a serial rapist.
”The suspect used a variation of his first name and his own pictures on social media,” explains Houston Police Lieutenant Jacinda Gunter. Lt. Gunter says Jorge Arturo Mar, 24, would meet Houston women on social media or on dating apps and meet up with them in a public place. However, Lt. Gunter says Mar would coax the ladies into his car. “The first time they agreed to meet him, he lured them into his car, drove them to a remote location where he sexually assaulted them in his vehicle,” Lt. Gunter explains.
Mar doesn’t have a criminal record, but he has now been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Detectives say DNA confirms Mar raped three women. They believe he sexually assaulted five more women who have already come forward and they are also making a plea for other victims to contact police. Investigators say they realize some victims fear not being believed.
“Here at the Houston Police Department we always start by believing. We’re going to follow the evidence and we’re going to investigate every report of sexual assault,” says Gunter.
The Commander of HPD’s Special Victims Division Capt. David Angelo also says if a victim isn’t yet ready to report the crime to police, “Please go to the hospital and get a free forensic examination,” also known as a rape kit. “Then once you are ready, willing and able to report it to police whether it’s one week from now, one month from now, one year from now, if you go to the hospital first we can have that evidence preserved.” Capt. Angelo says DPS will then keep that evidence for two years.
Lieutenant Gunter says since online dating has become so popular, so have crimes. "It is common for people to meet on dating apps and for people who meet on dating apps to be sexually assaulted."
She has this advice to help you stay safe from predators who may be targeting victims online. First of all, only meet up in a very public place. “Tell someone where you’re going and who your’e going to meet. Drive yourself in your own car. If you feel like something’s going wrong or something doesn’t feel right, trust your intuition and get out of that situation,” says Lt. Gunter, who is also encouraging online daters to ask to see the drivers license of the person you meet and do a background check.
Of the eight assaults investigators believe Mar carried out, six are in Houston, one is in Harris County and one is in Montgomery County. Mar was allegedly raping and robbing the women, sometimes using a weapon.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is asking for Mar’s bond to be set at $1,000,000 for each charge.
“Due to the serial nature of this, the seriousness of the offense, we believe if he was out he would strike again,” says Assistant District Attorney Chris Handley. Mars charges have a punishment range from 5 years to life in prison.