He lived 200 miles away from his alleged victims, but investigators say the distance didn't stop the man --dubbed the Twilight Rapist -- from carefully planning and executing home burglaries and sexual assaults 18 times in two years.
Billy Joe Harris is being tried in the Walker County Courthouse on charges of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit aggravated sexual assault of an elderly woman in Marquez, Texas.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, all of the DNA evidence linked to Harris - about half of the total number of cases - was gathered from home invasions that occurred in 2009. Wednesday the courtroom heard testimony from two victims, a forensic scientist, and an agent from the FBI’s Behavioral Analyst Unit, as well as Harris’ former roommate.
The FBI agent who specializes in adult crimes described the profile his team created for the “Twilight Rapist.”
“Due to the nature and recognizance method of the home burglaries linked to the Twilight Rapist, we found that the suspect would be extremely organized; each burglary was carefully planned, he often cut phone lines and turned off electricity inside the homes before breaking in,” he said. “The suspect was confident and always conscious of reducing the risk of leaving any trace of his identity at the scene.”
The agent said after the sexual assault, many victims claim the man would draw a bath and demand them to clean up in front of him. "Victims say he would make them wash the sheets before he left."
Rangers with the Texas Department of Public Safety say dozens of stolen items were recovered from Harris’ home in Missouri City – a home that was located roughly 200 miles away from the victims’ home.
“When you walked inside the two story house, you would find a large grandfather clock to the left and a shelf to the right – on one of the shelves you would find a wooden box filled with house keys,” said the DPS Ranger.
Those house keys, investigators say, were stolen from each victim during the burglary. A locksmith analyzed many of the sets and claimed one of them belonged to a Yoakum, Texas victim.
Firearms, check books, clocks, computers, a fur coat, two deer-mounts and a laptop computer were also found inside the home. Investigators say these stolen items strategically placed in Harris’ home, served as “souvenirs” or “trophies” from each victim.
“Being able to see the items inside his home would conceivably be a reminder of the sexual assault,” the FBI agent said. The deer-mount found in Harris’ garage belonged to an 80-year-old Marquez victim.
Another Yoakum, Texas victim testified Wednesday, she says she’s never driven or owned a car, a cell phone, or even bank account. “I walk everywhere I need to go,” said the victim.
The victim was very petite, shy and witty. She apologized to the courtroom for being what she called ’anxious’ as she recalled the day, she says, she met Billy Joe Harris.
“I was sitting on the front end of my couch and I heard scratching noises, but didn’t think anything since I had a few cats. But it wasn’t my cat. All of a sudden, in walks this man and he says, ‘Well, where is everyone?’ and I just looked at him and I said, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’ so I grabbed my purse and tried to head out the door.”
Prosecutors asked her why she grabbed her purse.
She replied, “Well, I had my entire life savings of $11,000 dollars in my purse and I didn’t want him to take it.”
Harris allegedly did – but the woman claims he sexually assaulted her before stealing the money.
She moved into an apartment near the police station shortly after the alleged attack in November 2009. A few weeks later, the victim says she woke up in the middle of the night and found Harris standing over her bed without any clothes on.
He said, ‘Remember me? Did you miss me?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to call the police’ and he said, ‘You go ahead and call, they’ll never find me.”
The woman says he sexually assaulted her a second time.
“I used to be calm, you know, I never thought things like this happen, now, the little things get me disturbed because…I know the feeling,” she said.
During this woman’s testimony Harris had his head down, almost as if he was sleeping. As soon as she left the stand, Harris lifted his head back up as his former roommate took to the witness stand.
We will hear more on her testimony of what it was like living with the man accused of sexually assaulting dozens of elderly women.