- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 12, 2001

Montgomery County police yesterday arrested a man who may be responsible for a series of sexual assaults on young women and girls since March.
John Kevin Hickman was described by police as a 24-year-old white man who is currently unemployed. He was arrested at 9:30 a.m. yesterday in an apartment building in the 16000 block of Barnesville Road in Boyds in northern Montgomery County.
Captain Bill O'Toole of Montgomery County police said they believed Mr. Hickman was living in the apartment at the time of his arrest.
He has been charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree sexual offense and attempted first-degree rape for an attack on a 13-year-old girl in her parents' Germantown apartment on July 9.
Capt. O'Toole said two of the charges could carry a life sentence.
The girl, who lives with her mother and sister, was alone in the apartment when the suspect is believed to have knocked on the door, claiming to be a maintenance worker. He then sexually assaulted her.
Police are not saying if Mr. Hickman has a previous record.
Altogether, seven young girls or women were sexually assaulted in the Germantown, Gaithersburg and Rockville areas since March this year. All the victims are between 13 and 19 years old, and in most cases, they were attacked along a deserted road or jogging trail.
The search for the attacker had puzzled police for a long time. Police cited subtle differences in the nature of the attack and the lack of "crucial detail" to link the various crimes.
In the communities where the attacks happened, residents responded with fear and extra vigilance. Parents tagged along with children to playgrounds. At a playground camp in the area, counsellors accompanied children at all times.
Capt. O'Toole said it would be "premature" to say Mr. Hickman was involved in all seven incidents, but sources told the Associated Press that investigators believed Mr. Hickman is responsible for at least four other assaults.
All of the assaults were said to involve a light-skinned male with a short, blond haircut — a description that police said matches Mr. Hickman.
Police had received hundreds of tips on the assault cases, and the arrest was made after someone called in with a tip that Mr. Hickman was involved in the assaults, police said.
"We did a lot of follow-up work and yesterday evening got an arrest warrant," Capt. O'Toole said.

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