CMPD: Serial rapist broke into Charlotte homes, sexually assaulted women

CMPD: Serial rapist broke into Charlotte homes, sexually assaulted women

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced Friday morning a major break in two rape cases that they’ve been investigating for more than a year.

Lance Elam, 30, is charged with breaking into the homes of two Charlotte women and sexually assaulting them.

CMPD started investigating in January 2016 when a woman reported that a stranger broke into her home on Clemson Avenue, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint and then fled the scene.

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Police said a woman reported in August 2016 that a man broke into her apartment on Runaway Bay Drive and sexually assaulted her. She told officers she did not know the man.

CMPD said in both cases the victims were complete strangers to the suspect.

"This kind of case is really about the most heinous kind of thing we investigate," said CMPD Lt. Melanie Peacock. "It can be very terrifying, but I need to stress that this kind of case is also extremely rare."

Peacock said that Elam had become a person of interest in the case when evidence from the sexual assault cases matched a breaking and entering case in Midland, Texas. She said an arrest couldn’t be made though because there was no probable cause.

Peacock said a break in the case came in April 2017, when an arrest was made in a sexual assault case in Bluffton, South Carolina. Authorities said Elam broke into a woman’s home and sexually assaulted her, and he was arrested near the scene

The DNA collected at the scene in Bluffton matched the DNA in the Charlotte and Texas cases.

Elam is currently in custody in South Carolina. He faces 13 counts in connection with the Charlotte area assaults.

Police said Elam has family in all three states.

CMPD said these kinds of cases are extremely rare where the victim and suspect do not know each other. They said in 90 percent of the cases, the victim and suspect know each other.

Residents in the area who learned of Elam's arrest were relieved.

“For me, that was kind of like, ‘Whoa.’  I'm kind of really shocked about that, and then, especially a couple of blocks over,” one resident said.

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