Days after police linked an intruder in Great Neck and Kings Point to more violent crimes in Hempstead and Texas, fearful residents worry.
Is the man still around? Where will he strike next? Will anyone else get hurt?
"I think the community is on edge. That would be the only way to describe it," said Marsha Rotman, president of the Kings Point Civic Association. "As long as this isn't resolved, I think what you're going to have is very, very frightened people."
Since Nov. 30, a man has entered or attempted to enter six homes in Great Neck and Kings Point. Police say during one break-in, he held a wet rag on a teenager's face; days later, he held a knife to a woman's face.
Late last week, Nassau County police said DNA collected from a hat left at one of the homes matched that of the still-unidentified suspect in a July hammer attack in Hempstead. It also matched DNA from the 2009 rape and kidnapping of a 2-year-old Texas girl.
"It went from what we thought was a voyeur to somebody who was definitely an animal," said John "Jack" Miller, Kings Point Police Department commissioner. "I think it's just amazing we didn't have someone with serious injuries."
The violence of the earlier crimes unnerved residents and local officials. Several residents didn't want to be identified for fear of being targeted. Others said they were taking steps to protect themselves.
"He's interacting. He wants a response. He's brazen," Great Neck Estates resident Marlene Handelman said of the suspect. She said she's started putting a chair up against the door of her home.
"The unusual circumstances of the previous home invasions led me to believe this was not a normal person," said Great Neck Village Mayor Ralph J. Kreitzman. The DNA links "confirmed my fears and made them even worse."
Nassau Police have received "a few calls a day" about the case and continue to pursue leads, Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said Monday.
Police described the suspect as 5-foot-2 with a lean build and dark hair. He told the victim in Hempstead that his name was Marvin. Police traced him to a Hempstead rooming house where residents said a man there used the same name.
Rotman and Kreitzman urge residents to follow police suggestions to turn on outdoor lights, lock windows, secure doors and set alarms. The community should return to the vigilance they showed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Rotman said, when they watched for strangers and odd behavior.
With Sophia Chang