An Indiana man accused of stalking and raping at least six women in Philadelphia may have traversed the Eastern Seaboard, targeting victims in as many as eight states, authorities said Monday.
Kevin Bennett, 28, was arrested in Indianapolis on Saturday after Philadelphia police detected a pattern of a man in a gray Dodge Charger following, and in some cases sexually assaulting and robbing, women in the city. Almost all the women he targeted are employed as dancers or bartenders at gentleman’s clubs, leaving the tight-knit industry in Philadelphia on edge for days.
“There’s a very long history in the United States of serial killers and serial rapists preying on people who are marginalized in one way or another,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said. During a news conference Monday, he announced that his office will charge Bennett with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, stalking, burglary, robbery, and weapons violations.
Bennett is incarcerated in Indianapolis and being detained at the request of Philadelphia authorities but hasn’t been arrested for offenses there, an Indianapolis police spokesperson said. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Capt. Mark Burgmann of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit said officers are working with the FBI to identify other potential victims, but he didn’t estimate how many there may be.
In addition to Philadelphia and Indianapolis, Bennett is also under investigation in suburban Philadelphia, as he is accused of following women from Philadelphia to their homes in Montgomery and Delaware Counties. Burgmann said Bennett is also under investigation in six Southern states, but he did not name them, other than saying investigators are working with federal officials in Tennessee. An FBI spokesperson in Tennessee declined to comment.
The investigations outside Philadelphia are also for sexual offenses in which “pretty much the M.O. was exactly the same,” Burgmann said. Court documents don’t show a criminal record for Bennett in Pennsylvania. He was convicted of armed robbery in Indianapolis in 2011 and sentenced to eight years in prison, records show.
Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Branwen McNabb said Bennett “terrorized and assaulted” women over the course of four days in six incidents that included three sexual assaults. She said Bennett went to nightclubs and followed employees to their homes, taking a number of steps to evade detection, including covering his license plate and at least once posing as an electrical worker to access an apartment building.
Burgmann said officers obtained surveillance footage of Bennett and his gray Dodge Charger that proved crucial in identifying and apprehending him.
Chris Bavender, a spokesperson at the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said agents there surveilled “multiple locations” for 36 hours to locate Bennett, then called for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department SWAT team, which arrested him at about 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Investigators in Philadelphia haven’t yet determined if Bennett has a connection to the city.
In several cases, Bennett followed the women and then fled when they called 911, McNabb said. She said in one May 16 incident, a woman was sitting in her car on the 1100 block of West Ontario Street in North Philadelphia when Bennett approached her, held her at gunpoint, and sexually assaulted her in an alley.
The next evening, Bennett followed a woman from her job at Oasis nightclub in Southwest Philadelphia to the third floor of the parking garage at her apartment building in the city’s Spring Garden section, McNabb said. But she was able to drive away and call 911 when she noticed Bennett was walking toward her.
McNabb said the next night, about midnight on May 18, Bennett followed one of three women from the South Philadelphia Cheerleaders gentleman’s club location to their apartment building in North Philadelphia. The woman noticed him, screamed, and ran into a neighbor’s apartment, and Bennett fled, McNabb said, adding police later obtained footage showing the gray Dodge at that location.
About 10 hours later, Bennett returned to the same apartment building — this time dressed as a utility worker — and robbed and sexually assaulted the two other women who live in the apartment, McNabb said. Both victims told police they remembered Bennett being at Cheerleaders the night before.
Later that day, police said, a woman was inside the fitness center at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia when a man authorities believe was Bennett pulled a gun on her and told her to leave with him. She declined and he hit her on the head with the gun, then fled, police said.