Former Ellicott City man accused of rape Suspect arrested in Calif. in attack on woman Feb. 5

March 25, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

A former Ellicott City resident was arrested in San Diego last week and charged with the February rape of an Asian woman in the Wheatfields community -- an attack that police linked to two other rapes of Asian women in the same area.

Police said Tak Wha Tsang, 38, was arrested Thursday evening at his home in San Diego on a Howard County fugitive warrant. He is accused of the Feb. 5 assault on a 38-year-old woman who lived in the normally quiet Ellicott City community.

That attack, and two others in the past year by a masked man wielding a knife, caused police to issue a community alert last month that a rapist appeared to be targeting Asian women in the Ellicott City area.

Tsang has not been charged in the other two cases, said Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman -- though the victims in those attacks lived in the same Ellicott City apartment complex as the suspect.

Sheila Begg, a crisis-intervention coordinator at the Sexual Trauma, Treatment, Advocacy and Recovery Center in Columbia, said the arrest of a suspect was good news for Asian-American and Asian women in Howard County.

"I imagine it [the arrest] will make a lot of people feel very relieved in the community," she said yesterday.

Keller said Tsang will be charged in the February attack with multiple sex offenses, including first- and second-degree rape, robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary and assault.

Tsang, who lived in the Pine Orchard Apartments on U.S. 40 before moving to California early this month, waived extradition at a San Diego hearing yesterday and will be returned to Howard County this week, Keller said.

According to police, Howard County detectives -- working on a tip -- searched Tsang's red 1988 Ford Festiva, which was found abandoned in a parking lot in the Pine Orchard apartment complex. In the car, police found packaging for handcuffs similar to those described by the Wheatfields rape victim.

When San Diego police arrested Tsang, they discovered gloves, handcuffs and a pair of shoes similar to those worn by the attacker in the Feb. 5 assault, Howard County police said.

Police said the three women who were attacked are Asians who lived within five to seven miles of each other.

The victims of the earlier assaults -- a 46-year-old woman was raped Dec. 6 and a woman of unspecified age was attacked 10 months earlier -- also lived at Pine Orchard.

Police said the women reported similarities in the attacks but declined to provide details. Police never mentioned handcuffs in their descriptions of the attacks.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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