November 13, 2014
Authorities said accused rapist Ekwunze Job “EJ” Owen Jr. was an opportunist who evolved into a serialized criminal that eventually led to the sexual assault of a 91-year-old Tempe woman.
The 24-year-old Owen was taken into custody and arrested just after midnight Wednesday east of the Arizona State University campus and charged in connection with the rape of the elderly woman and several other sex crimes in neighboring Mesa.
Owen’s arrest at an apartment complex in the area of Apache Boulevard and Terrace Road ended with a large-scale manhunt.
Owen is believed to have raped the woman Oct. 18, attempted to rape another woman last weekend and is accused of an attempted sexual assault and three indecent exposure incidents in Mesa, dating back as far as 2012.
Police said Owen was with his girlfriend, 25-year-old Alyssa Sherrill, when he was arrested near Apache Boulevard and Terrace Road. She is not suspected of any wrongdoing, authorities said.
Mesa Police Chief Fran Milstead said that during the course of the investigation they realized there was an established pattern and that the suspect was a “serialized criminal.”
Milstead, who had experiences with Baseline Killer and convicted rapist Mark Goudeau while Milstead was with the Phoenix Police Department, said he knew they had to jump on the case fast.
The series of incidents began in Mesa in January 2012 and investigators have compiled information about trespassing and indecent exposures since then.
Milstead said Owen would try to befriend or win the trust of his victims and would knock on doors, ask to use the phone or for directions, often enter the residences and unlock windows to allow him access when he came back to commit a crime.
The reported pattern started as “peeping Toms,” and transformed into masturbation and ultimately sexual assaults, Milstead said.
Owen’s arrest follows the attempted rape of a woman in Tempe on Saturday in the area of University and Priest.
Police said the woman screamed, and Owen ran off.
The woman told police she recognized the man who tried to attack her through sketches of a sexual assault suspect she’d seen on TV.