By Patrick Markey
The violent Queens rapist who has preyed on Irish immigrants over the last year and a half may have struck again, attempting to rape another young Irish woman before she managed to escape from her assailant’s car.
The attack took place last Wednesday, Aug. 16, at around 9:30 p.m. in the vicinity of 59th Street and 56th Avenue near the heavily Irish immigrant Woodside neighborhood, where a serial rapist has attacked women after picking them up in a gypsy taxi cab, often as they leave one of the area’s many Irish bars.
The latest victim was attacked in the back of a vehicle after leaving a local bar and alcohol again played a part in this assault, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.
The assault took place just days after police released details of the man they believe is responsible for at least five attacks on Irish women.
Queens detectives are hunting for the suspect, Cesar Vicuna, a 28-year-old illegal Ecuadorian immigrant who they believe used his cabbie job as an opportunity to prey on vulnerable women.
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Detectives said they believe Vicuna is responsible for at least six sexual attacks since July 1999. All the victims were attacked in the early-morning hours after trying to catch a taxi ride home. Two managed to escape during the attempted rapes.
Investigators are still trying to determine whether the latest attack is part of the Queens pattern.
"It looks like his method of operation in some parts, but we’re not sure yet," said the police source.
Police said the Queens serial sex attacker usually strikes between 2:30-4:30 a.m. and takes the victims to a secluded area where he sexual assaults them. In some cases the assailant beat or choked his victims. In other incidents, the victim fell asleep in the vehicle and woke up in the back seat to find the assailant on top of her.
Four of the attacks took place last year and two women were attacked this year. Three of the attacks took place in or originated near Woodside, two attacks were in Astoria and another victim was attacked in Elmhurst. One of the attacks began with a ride from Manhattan.
Detectives have learned that more Irish women may have been attacked but could have returned to Ireland without telling anyone about the incident, the police source said.
Detectives have used DNA to link the first four attacks and four victims have also identified Vicuna from photo lineups. DNA tests from the latest two attacks are still being processed.
Police again urged woman to avoid returning home alone late at night and asked that they only use a known livery cab service. Vicuna is described as 5-foot-7 and about 175 pounds. Anyone with information about the attacks or Vicuna should call the confidential police hotline at (212) 577-TIPS.