A Michigan prosecutor said Tuesday that stabbing attacks in his state that killed five people are linked to similar attacks in Virginia and Ohio.
So far, authorities have reported a total of 20 such attacks in the three states. Genesee County, Michigan, prosecutor David Leyton said on CNN’s “American Morning” that the victims’ description of the attacker and his car are similar.
“We think we have the same perpetrator,” he said.
Leyton said police believe the man is responsible for three recent attacks in Leesburg, Virginia, the stabbing deaths of five people and injuries to 11 others in the Flint, Michigan, area and a stabbing Saturday that injured one man in Toledo, Ohio.
Fourteen of the 16 victims in Michigan were African-American, he said, but Flint is also a majority African-American community. In majority white Leesburg, Virginia, two victims were black and one was Hispanic.
“We don’t know what’s in the mind of the assailant. We know he’s an evil guy, but we do not know enough to make the leap that this is racially motivated,” Leyton said. “We’ll catch him.”
The Michigan attacks began May 24, with the most recent taking place August 2.
The three attacks in Virginia occurred on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of last week.
Leyton said police do not know if the suspect is in Michigan. Anyone with information should call Michigan police at 866-246-9500. Leesburg police told CNN they have established a $5,000 reward for anyone providing information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.
The suspect is described by Michigan authorities as a white man in his late 20s to early 30s. He is driving a Chevy Blazer or GMC Jimmy, model years 1995-2005, with a two-tone green top over a beige or gold bottom. Virginia authorities provided a similar description: an older model 1995-2000 Chevy S-10 Blazer with a dark green upper and a lighter tan or beige color on the lower panels.
The suspect is described as a stocky, unshaven white man usually wearing a baseball cap with a stud earring in his left ear.
“We know he is a strong individual,” Leyton said, adding that the suspect is “preying on individuals who are alone on the street.”
The Michigan victims’ ages ranged from 17 to 60 years old, according to Leyton. All of the victims have been men, and in two cases they were people with special needs.
Leesburg Police Chief Joe Price said the Virginia victims “all appear to have been smaller in stature or more of an older age than our suspect — in other words, people that he thinks he can physically handle.”
The suspect is believed to approach victims who are on foot during the early morning hours, asking for directions or other assistance to lure them closer to his car, Leyton said.
Sgt. Bill Wauford of the Toledo Police Department said the method of attack in the Ohio case matched the Michigan incidents.
That attack occurred about 7:45 p.m. Saturday after a 59-year-old man — also black — was taking a smoke break from his job as a church custodian, Wauford said.
“A suspect approached him asking for directions and started stabbing him for no apparent reason,” Wauford said, adding that the incident occurred near a major interstate highway.
Authorities were able to speak to the victim for only a short time Saturday night before he was rushed into surgery for a collapsed lung, Wauford said. Police were able to get a description of the suspect’s vehicle — a dark green early ’90s Chevy Blazer.
The five Michigan victims who did not survive the attacks are David Motley on May 24; Emmanuel Dent on June 21; Darwin Marshall on July 26; Frank Kellybrew on July 30; and Arnold Miner on August 2.
The FBI is assisting in the investigation, Leesburg and Genesee County officials said.