Originally created 01/19/98

Scieszka is not first serial rapist to plague Athens

ATHENS, Ga. -- John Alexander Scieszka is behind bars for the rest of his life after his conviction last week in five 1995 and 1996 sexual assaults in Athens' Five Points area.

But Mr. Scieszka was by no means the first serial rapist to stalk Athens women. He wasn't even the first Five Points rapist.

Many of those other serial rapes remain unsolved, including a series of rapes on UGA women from roughly the same period as Mr. Scieszka's attacks, Athens-Clarke County police say.

Police believe the same knife-wielding man raped four women between May 31 and July 10, 1996 but apparently has not struck again -- at least not in Athens.

The first attack was May 31, 1996, when a man grabbed a 23-year-old University of Georgia student by the neck as she walked on a path through a wooded area near Parkview Homes on Newton Street. After choking her into submission, he dragged her into a nearby wooded area and raped her, all the while holding a knife in front of her, the woman told police.

The woman described her rapist as a black man with a dark complexion, between 30 and 35 years old, 5 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighing 150 to 160 pounds.

In another assault, a man grabbed a 24-year-old woman near the train trestle between East Dougherty and Willow streets in June 1996, dragged her up the hill to the railroad tracks, held a knife on her, forced her to undress, robbed her and raped her, police said.

That victim told police her attacker was a black man in his 30s, 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a medium build.

DNA evidence links those rapes and two others on Hill and Franklin streets, said Detective Dale Parrish of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

The man has not struck again since a July 1996 attack and may have left the Athens area, died or perhaps even have been imprisoned for another crime, Detective Parrish said.

Mr. Scieszka and the man responsible for those four 1996 rapes were not the first serial rapists to strike in Athens, however.

A dozen years ago, another sexual predator terrorized women in the Five Points neighborhood near the UGA campus. And he, like Mr. Scieszka, was dubbed the "Five Points rapist," said Athens-Clarke County police Sgt. W.J. Smith, the lead investigator in the Scieszka case, who assisted in the other Five Points investigation.

From 1983 to 1986, police investigated four rapes, all similar in method, recalled Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry. At the time, Sheriff Berry was an investigator for Clarke County District Attorney's office.

In each case, a man wearing a ski mask entered a woman's apartment through a window, threatened her with a knife, tied her up and raped her. One victim was blind, but the other three couldn't describe the attacker's face because of the ski mask, police said.

Athens police thought they had their man in 1985, when a woman reported a Peeping Tom and police arrested Georgia Tech graduate Phillip Allen Greek.

When police arrested the man, they found binding materials, gloves, a knife and a ski mask on the back floorboard of his car, Sheriff Berry said. And when investigators checked Mr. Greek's background, they discovered three previous rape arrests on his record but no convictions. Mr. Greek was charged with two rapes while he was a U.S. Army soldier stationed in Germany during the 1960s and later was charged in a Delaware rape, Sheriff Berry said.

That was enough to make Mr. Greek the No. 1 suspect in the '80s Five Points cases but not enough to arrest him. The big break didn't come until the early part of 1986, when Mr. Greek's final target managed to escape her bonds and rush out the front door of her house.

Mr. Greek apparently panicked and left the apartment through a window.

"He left four of the prettiest prints I've ever seen," Sheriff Berry said.

The four fingerprints on an inside windowsill were enough for investigators to get a warrant for Mr. Greek's arrest, and the man confessed when police went to his Cleveland Road home, Sheriff Berry said.


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