Garland and Mesquite police say a man attacked three women in the two cities over a 5-day stretch.
Justin Dejohn Smith of Dallas is facing charges of attempted murder, evading arrest, and unlawful restraint in Mesquite and charges of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnappings, and aggravated robbery in Garland.
Police say 39-year-old Smith made his first reported attack on August 23 at the Saddletree Apartments on Duck Creek Drive close to Oates Road.
“He entered into a woman’s home, assaulted her – physically and sexually – and then stole her car,” said Mesquite Police Lt. Brandon Ricketts, who called the crime a “very violent” one.
Police say the victim had never seen Smith before and was alone inside her apartment when he attacked.
Garland Police Lieutenant Richard Maldonado explained that the victim “did everything right” and only slightly opened the door but Smith, who was armed with a knife, forced himself into the house. Maldonado added that the victim suffered lacerations as a result of the invasion. She was treated at the hospital.
Smith’s next reported attack happened the next day, about 8 miles away from the first. Police say he approached a woman in the parking lot of the Spanish Lagos Apartments in Mesquite, close to Highway 80 and 635.
Smith asked the victim for directions, according to police. When she responded, Smith allegedly opened her car door and choked her. He later ran off when she managed to honk her horn.
Police say Smith attacked another woman on the morning of August 27 at a carwash on 635 and Oates in Mesquite. He allegedly choked the woman as she was washing her car, but was chased away when a witness intervened.
Officers with the Mesquite Police Department tracked him to an apartment complex in the area and arrested Smith on August 27. The department then reached out to Garland Detectives, who had been working the case of the first victim, and told them they arrested a suspect in a case similar to what they had. The two police departments then studied the case and determined Smith was the perpetrator in both city’s cases after witness testimony.
Police say Smith’s criminal history dates back to 2006 as he has dozens of criminal filings, including assault, drug, and weapons charges. They also say he has had several felony convictions in the past.
Speaking about his mode of operation, Ricketts explained that Smith “located women that were alone.” “He isolated them, tried to start a conversation with them, and ends up attacking them unexpectedly,” he said.
Ricketts sends out a warning to women, advising them to be careful.
“If you are approached by someone, lock your door and try to leave. And if you can’t leave, call the police,” he said.
Maldonado also preaches caution.
“We just want people to be aware of their surroundings at all times it doesn’t matter where you’re at you can be at home, you can be at your vehicle in a parking lot, you can be washing your car, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
The Garland police lieutenant further advises residents to be very cautious when it comes to opening doors to strangers.
“That door is a layer of protection, so if you’re not aware of who they are, keep the door shut,” he said.
Smith was taken to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office. Mesquite and Garland police think Smith might have attacked more women other than the three they know of.