BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Police from Dallas, TX, are in Baton Rouge awaiting an extradition hearing for an accused serial rapist linked to crimes there.
Suspected serial rapist Van Dixson, 38, was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison early Wednesday morning after being questioned at Louisiana State Police Headquarters for several hours. The suspect was silent as he was walked out of the headquarters building around 2:20 a.m. An extradition hearing for Dallas investigators to take him back there will be held later in the morning.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore tells 9News that he has spoken with Dallas County D.A. Craig Watkins on Wednesday afternoon. Moore says Watkins pledged to send an expedited Van Dixson extradition package to his office. Dixson will make his first court appearance Thursday morning and will later have an extradition hearing in District Court. At that point it will be clear if Dixson intends on fighting his return to Dallas.
The Dallas Police Department said Dixson was linked by DNA to four of the nine rapes reported in a Dallas-area park since June. Dallas officials were tipped off Tuesday that Dixson had taken a bus to Baton Rouge. From there, US marshals were able to track him to a motel and arrest him.
"Once they got to the bus station at Baton Rouge and started showing his picture around, there was some indication from some of the people that they had indeed seen an individual fitting that description and that he had possibly gone to a local motel," said US Marshal Kevin Harrison.
Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police, has a trooper on the US Marshal Task Force that picked up Dixson. As with this task force, Edmonson said, his fusion center plays a vital role in getting answers.
"Look at the number of people that can be here within a couple of hours," Edmonson explained. "When you talk about Interstate 10, Interstate 20, they're heavily traveled interstate systems and that's why we work that area."
Harrison said investigators don't have any explanations yet as to why Dixson was in Baton Rouge, except for one.
"This is as far as his money would allow him to go," Harrison elaborated.
"It matters because he chose to come to Baton Rouge. It matters because he took the time out of his life and he ended up in Baton Rouge. For the US Marshal's Office to be so quick, the task force to be so quick to pick him up, there are so many 'what ifs' there. We certainly don't speculate, but hopefully, we kept something from happening in Louisiana. We kept something from happening in Baton Rouge," Edmonson added.
Even though the US Marshal's Office did not get the call until Monday about Dixson being in Baton Rouge, officials said he had been in the city for a few days. The Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Parish Sheriff's Office are investigating what led Dixson to the state capital.
Dixson was a crime-watch volunteer in an inner-city neighborhood in Dallas. Four arrest warrants have been issued charging him with sexual assault. The arrest warrants were issued after police said DNA test results linked him to four attacks in the Fair Park neighborhood southeast of downtown Dallas.
US Marshals Task Force received a tip around 2:15 p.m. that Dixson was traveling by bus and could be at the bus station on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge. Witnesses at the bus station told federal marshals that Dixson was going to look for a motel room and agents found him at a motel on Florida Boulevard.
According to WFAA in Dallas, Dixson was named as a suspect on September 7, four days after the department announced that a serial rapist was targeting women near Fair Park. Officials said Dixson's car was impounded after it was found abandoned in Garland, a northeastern Dallas suburb. A warrant for a police search of the vehicle is pending.