Two young girls and two women have been raped in one Southeast Washington neighborhood in the last nine days, each of them approached by an assailant in an apartment complex laundry room, police said.

Police officials have formed a task force to catch the rapist, and officers of the 7th Police District are knocking on doors throughout the area to warn residents to be careful around laundry rooms.

Investigators believe all four rapes were committed by one man.

"We don't want to cause people to panic, but we also want them to know we're not ignoring it," said Capt. John Collins, commander of the police department's sex offense branch.

The first rape occurred on April 12 in the laundry room of an apartment building in the 3000 block of Stanton Road SE. A 24-year old woman was attacked by a man who held a kitchen knife to her throat, dragged her to a nearby vacant room and assaulted her sexually, police said.

On Monday, a 10-year-old girl was sexually abused in a laundry room two doors away from the first attack, police said.

On Tuesday afternoon, a 32-year-old woman was raped in a laundry room in the 2500 block of 25th Street SE, about a mile away.

Tuesday, a 12-year-old girl was assaulted at 8 p.m. in a laundry room on Naylor Road, around the corner from the Tuesday afternoon location.

Police say the attacker is around 30 years old, about six feet tall, bearded, and wears white tennis shoes. He has threatened each victim, using the same language each time, police said.