Authorities now say that an accused serial rapist committed four sexual assaults and is a suspect in three others.
And, Omaha police allege, Christopher A. Ennis' behavior was only getting worse.
Lt. Trevor O'Brien, head of the sexual assault investigative unit, said police feared that the man — whom they weren't able to identify until last week — was escalating his actions to the point that he might kill.
“The offender was getting more dangerous,” O'Brien said. “We got him off the street before it got worse.”
Ennis, 27, now stands accused of two sexual assaults in August 2012, one in November and one last week. Police are looking into three more sexual assaults that occurred from 2009 on.
Authorities say DNA connects Ennis to all four women. The allegations against Ennis also involve violence.
The man grabbed each woman as she walked alone — usually late at night or in the early morning hours near 27th Street, between Binney and Wirt Streets.
He then choked them — one to the point of unconsciousness — dragged them and raped them. The man sometimes apologized afterward, telling the women he was high on one kind of drug or another.
Two of the women were 27, the other two were 37.
“He knew how to control them, and he knew where to find them,” O'Brien said.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said seven detectives and officers from the northeast precinct have been working to solve the spree.
The big break came after last week's assault, when the woman provided a description of a distinctive gold or tan car, complete with in-transit stickers. Police on patrol nine blocks north of the rape scene spotted the car and questioned the driver: Ennis.
One woman identified Ennis as the man who raped her in August 2012. Police then took a DNA sample and compared it against evidence collected in several unsolved rapes.
“I hope this arrest provides our victims some closure, and I am extremely proud of our detectives who brought this offender to justice,” Schmaderer said.
O'Brien and Schmaderer praised the women who came forward. However, they're concerned there are more victims.
Police ask anyone who was victimized in a similar manner to call the Special Victims Unit at 402-444-5636.
Ennis is the second man charged with serial rape this year. Anthony Vaughn was charged in connection with five rapes from 1999 to 2009.