DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Police Department is issuing a warning to citizens who chat on a social networking website after linking the online meeting place to recent sex assaults in the city.
The department’s Sex Crime Investigators found evidence of a connection between three women who used the social website, MoCo Space, and were sexually assaulted.
In one instance, police say a 23-year-old woman agreed to meet a man after chatting on MoCo Space. Police say the two met on April 6 at a vacant dwelling on Mettetal St. around 11 p.m., where the woman said the man produced a weapon and sexually assaulted her. As the man was fleeing the scene, he dropped his personal property which was later retrieved by police.
After investigators were notified about the alleged attack, they pulled another sexual assault report that had occurred at the same location.
In that incident, police say a 32-year-old female agreed to meet a man after chatting on MoCo Space at the Mettetal St. dwelling around 6 a.m. on Dec. 25. Much like the other attack, the victim told police once inside the dwelling, the man produced a weapon and sexually assaulted her before fleeing from the location and taking her personal items.
After canvassing the crime scene area, investigators determined that 19-year-old Terrell Lewis, who lives on Mettetal St., was a “person of interest” in the attacks. He was taken into police custody on April 7 and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office charged him with first degree criminal sexual conduct and armed robbery.
Then five days later, police say they received another report of a criminal sexual assault that was again linked with the MoCo Space website.
In that incident, police say a 20-year-old female agreed, via the website, to meet a man in the parking lot of a bar located in the area of E. Seven Mile and VanDye on April 12 around 12:30 a.m. The woman told police she got into the man’s van and he told her they were going to drive to a relative’s home. It’s alleged that the man parked the van at an unknown location and sexually assaulted the victim. Police say he then drove the woman back to the bar and took her personal property before allowing her to exit the vehicle.
No one has been arrested in the third incident.
Detroit Police are now urging citizens to use care and to be cautious when using social websites to meet people at different locations.
Police Chief Ralph Godbee said they believe there are additional victims that have not come forward.
“The apprehension of Defendant Terrell Lewis was excellent work by our Detroit Police Sex Crimes Investigators, but we still have another person targeting Detroit women who are visiting and meeting individuals from the social website – MoCo Space. Please use caution and be careful,” Godbee said in a statement.
An investigation is ongoing.
According to its website, 11 million users participate in the MoCo Space community via their mobile phone or computer to find friends, have fun and stay connected. The website does warn users not to “meet people in real life that you only “know” online.”