"National Night Out" clears up rape rumors

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

Last month, two women were sexually assaulted off West Oak Street in Jonesboro. The cases still remain unsolved and rumors have been flying. Tuesday night, Jonesboro Police used "National Night Out" as a tool to clear up the talk, and open communication with several neighborhoods throughout Jonesboro.

"The rumor mill has been active. There's really nothing to cover up, but we're limited on what we can discuss openly for fear of messing up the investigation," said Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates.

He says there's been number of sexual assaults over the past two years. Some with similarities, two almost identical in nature. At this point, the department is conducting the investigation as a serial offender, but says there's really no physical evidence at this point to link any of the cases together.

"We have a number of persons of interest that we've been looking into," said Yates. Two of which are already behind bars for other offenses. Tuesday, at the annual "National Night Out" the department hoped to use the event as a tool to promote public safety and maybe clear up some rumors. Yates says in the past month, they've received a number of phone calls from the public.

"It's been more active and we've had more people calling in with things in the neighborhood that don't look right, and quite frankly that's what we want," said Yates.

Chez Payne, a board member with the West End Association, says that's exactly what he's pushed residents in the area to do. "We're at their service and we try to do our part to keep our own community safe," said Payne.

Payne says when the rape investigation started up a month ago, board members got together for a special meeting to discuss what was going on, and address the neighborhood. He hopes Tuesday's event will give neighbors the chance to mix and mingle.

"The more you're able to know what's normal in your neighborhood, the more we're able to recognize when something is abnormal," said Payne.

Chief Yates says it's that type of neighborhood bond, that can be instrumental in solving these cases.

"Having some familiarities to an area, being aware of your surroundings, quite frankly that's what could possibly break the case," said Yates.

Jonesboro police are still investigating the rape cases. We will continue to follow this story and bring you the last information as it becomes available.

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