NORCROSS -- Investigators believe Larry Davis made a recent habit of sneaking up on apartment-dwelling women in the Norcross area, overpowering and then raping them in their homes before walking away.
But they don't believe Davis is linked to another disturbing crime pattern -- a string of attempted child abductions around the Norcross and Snellville areas.
Davis, 25, whose last known address was in Ohio, has a history of sexual offenses dating back to his youth and could suffer from mental illness, authorities said. He allegedly posed as maintenance man last week at an apartment complex near Interstate 85 in Norcross, knocked on the door of a 41-year-old woman and attacked when she answered, brandishing a knife with brass knuckles in the handle.
Police believe Davis punched the woman twice in the face, breaking her eye socket, and violated her with his hand before she was able to break free and run to safety. A neighbor who called 911 said the victim was carrying scissors when she fled. Davis refused to leave the apartment until SWAT team members shot gas canisters in and took him into custody.
A week later, Gwinnett police are awaiting DNA test results from two similar sexual assaults at apartment complexes in unincorporated Norcross on March 18 and 20. Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Davis is a "prime suspect" in both attacks.
On March 18, a 28-year-old woman told police she was sexually assaulted about 8 a.m. in her home at the Bristol Court apartments off Holcomb Bridge Road. Police believe the masked man slipped in through an unlocked sliding door.
In the latter case, a 34-year-old woman at the Las Palmas Apartments was returning home from running an errand about 4 a.m. when a man rushed her from behind, claiming to have a handgun pressed to her ribs. He raped her in the apartment and walked away, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith.
DNA from both crime scenes is being tested at the GBI crime lab and compared to Davis's. No timetable for results was available Tuesday.
"Without the DNA, we don't have enough to charge him," Smith said.
Gwinnett police issued a public alert two days prior to Davis's arrest that a man had been approaching teens and children around Snellville and Norcross in four separate instances dating back to Jan. 31. In two cases, youngsters told police the man who approached them wore a black mask. He was described as driving a gold car, or chasing kids on foot.
Investigators have found no links between Davis and those incidents and don't believe he's connected, Ritter said. Norcross police Chief Warren Summers, whose agency arrested Davis, said he doesn't anticipate further charges.
Smith said with no viable suspects in the child cases parents should remain vigilant. It's possible that the four cases were not all related and that more than one suspect is at large, he said.
"We would definitely prefer that everyone remain on guard as much as possible," Smith said.
Davis remains jailed in Gwinnett without bond. He's also wanted in Ohio, were he was released from prison in January.
Davis spent just shy of three years in Ohio prison for failing to report his change of address in 2009, as his status as a "habitual sex offender" required. A court official told the Daily Post last week the underlying conviction happened when Davis was a juvenile, and thus no public record was available.
Norcross police found evidence that Davis may have been staying in woods near the Woodchase apartments. Among his confiscated belongings was a black ski mask, the chief said.