The man slipped behind young women in some of Fairfax County’s busiest shopping malls. He’d distract them, slash at their buttocks with a razor or box cutter, then dart off into the crowd.
Fairfax police said they may finally have identified the mysterious slasher — but as of Wednesday evening, they had not found him. Johnny D. Guillen Pimentel, 40, may have fled the area weeks ago, police said.
Guillen Pimentel, a former Fairfax resident, came to the United States from Peru eight or nine years ago, has worked as a day laborer and has a young son, according to his older brother, Edgar Rolando Guillen Pimentel.
Edgar Guillen Pimentel said he has not seen his brother in two months and doesn’t know where he is. He has not known his brother to be violent or aggressive, but he said Johnny Guillen Pimentel had a difficult breakup with the mother of his child about two years ago.
Edgar Guillen Pimentel said police have searched his Fairfax home and questioned him.
“I’d like to know if there is something going on in his mind. It pains me that someone in my family is accused of doing this,” Edgar Guillen Pimentel said in Spanish. “We are a humble, hardworking family.”
Johnny Guillen Pimentel is wanted in connection with one attack — on a warrant charging him with malicious wounding — but police have said they think the same man has cut nine women in their teens or early 20s since February.
None of the women were seriously injured, but the random slashings unnerved shoppers and authorities alike, and they drew widespread media attention. Police said the motive for the attacks remain a mystery and declined to release additional information about Guillen Pimentel, saying it could harm the investigation.
“The public and their assistance is crucial to cases such as this,” said Lucy Caldwell, a Fairfax police spokeswoman. “We believe we identified a suspect and are going back to the public to help locate him.”
Police said Johnny Guillen Pimentel might be driving a blue 2003 Honda Civic with the Virginia license plate KLX2689.
The attacker’s image was captured by surveillance cameras and was widely distributed by Washington area news outlets, including The Washington Post, when it was released by police several weeks ago. Initial tips about the man’s identity did not immediately pan out, but the pace of tips increased as the number of known incidents grew, police said.
Caldwell said the break in the search came after someone saw a police flier about the slashings in a store and “recently” called police. She did not have specifics.
Court records show that
Guillen Pimentel has had a minor run-in with police. In 2007, he was convicted of a noise violation, according to court records. At the time, his address was listed as in the 9400 block of Lee Highway in Fairfax, but he no longer lives there, a current resident said.
The most recent slashing occurred July 25 at Fair Oaks Mall. An 18-year-old woman who was shopping at XXI Forever about 5:30 p.m. noticed a man bending over to pick up some clothes that had fallen off a rack, police said.
Suddenly, the woman felt a sharp pain, but she thought it was a hanger poking her. Then she saw her denim shorts were torn and her buttocks were bleeding. The cut was an inch and a half long.
Four other victims were also cut at Fair Oaks Mall, where one of the first known attacks happened on Valentine’s Day, police said. Two other incidents occurred at H&M at Tysons Corner, one was reported at Marshalls at the Greenbriar Shopping Center and another at T.J. Maxx at Fairfax Towne Center.
All the attacks occurred in the afternoon or evening, when the malls were crowded, police said.
Fairfax police had stationed additional officers at retail centers across the county in an effort to deter the attacker and formed a task force in August. On Wednesday, police shared information about Guillen Pimentel with surrounding jurisdictions, although there have been no reports of slashings outside the county.
One of the slasher’s first victims, a 20-year-old woman from Northern Virginia, told The Post in July that she was left shaken by the incident. She said she was heading for an exit at Fair Oaks Mall on Valentine’s Day when a man suddenly ran up and cut her buttocks. He was carrying a shopping bag, she said.
“I thought he was grabbing me at first, and then I felt my skin. I was like, ‘You just ripped my leggings!’ ” said the woman, who is not being identified because she is a crime victim. “He said, ‘No, no, no — it was the bag,’ and ran away really fast.”
Staff researchers Jennifer Jenkins and Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.