HOUSTON - A man has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of at least three women he met through dating apps and social media, according to police.
Houston police on Wednesday announced the arrest of 24-year-old Jorge Mar, but he was formally charged Thursday.
Investigators said the attacks happened in Mar's vehicle on the first meetup between him and each of the victims. Investigators also said that DNA evidence in that vehicle has linked Mar to the crimes.
Police said they believe Mar may be involved in as many as eight assaults against women. Six cases were reported in Houston, one was reported in Harris County and one was filed in Montgomery County, police said.
After meeting the women online, police said, Mar would see which would be willing to meet him in person and would go to them, police said. From there, he would lure them into his vehicle, drive them to a remote location and assault them -- sometimes using a weapon to intimidate them, police said.
So far, three sexual assault kits have been done on victims in connection to this case. DNA was collected from two kits and results are pending on the third, police said.
The DNA collected does not match any previous offender in law enforcement's database, however, police said, Mar does not have any previous felony convictions that have required him to submit DNA, officials said.
During the assaults, police said they believe Mar would steal a specific item from each victim, though police would not release what that item was, to protect the case.
Mar has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, according to court records.
Detective Dawn Welch, of the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, said people should do research and get to know someone before planning a date.
"Anything can happen at any time, and that's even with someone you know in person," Welch said. "When you venture off into online dating and you're going to meet a stranger, you should maybe not expect the worst but prepare for it. Get to know somebody. Follow your gut. Trust your instincts and do all those things we teach our kids."
Welch also said people should meet in public places, limit the amount of alcohol consumption, don’t leave their food or drinks unattended, use their own transportation and never go home with someone they just met.
“Keep your friends and family in the loop," Welch said. "Let them know what you’re doing, where you’re going, who you’re going to be with and what time you expect to be home."
The online dating website eHarmony.com also suggests people keep their phone charged and have easy access to emergency numbers.
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