By Mindy Ragan Wood
Detectives with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office and Wichita Police Department believe they may have a serial rapist on their hands.
Two women have accused Hoang Vinh Tran of rape between December 2017 and January of this year and images from his phone reveal a possible third victim.
Tran was charged Jan. 11 after he was accused of kidnapping and raping an Oklahoma City woman who accepted a ride to work in December. The victim claimed her attacker took her to a remote area of Canadian County and raped her by instrumentation at knife point. He was arrested in Wichita after a sketch produced a lead and he was identified by police.
Police found physical evidence they believe connected him to the crime in January.
Investigators did not wait for additional victims to come forward. They went looking for them on Tran’s phone.
“We developed off his phone, some pictures that looked suspicious and it involved this young lady,” Canadian County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Mike Grimes said. “It wasn’t a crime at that point but an indication we needed to look further into it. They (detectives) were able to identify her and she was so scared of him she hadn’t reported it.”
The second victim disclosed to investigators an attack that was the same profile as the Oklahoma City woman’s experience.
Now a third clue on Tran’s phone could lead to another victim, a video that Grimes is processing for identification.
“I really do believe there are more victims and I hope they come forward,” he said. “In most cases police departments may not even know (about them). Sometimes victims are embarrassed that they got caught up in a predicament but it’s not their fault. We don’t want them to feel like they should be embarrassed.”
Grimes said the crimes fit the profile of a serial rapist.
“Typically, this is a serial type crime to start with when you’ve identified a second victim. This is a perpetrator who is setting them up in a typical MO (modus operandi). He offers them a ride and instead of taking them to their destination, he diverts and takes them out into the county. Immediately he pulls an 18-inch knife and holds it in a position that is threatening to them. They don’t know if they’re going to live through it,” Grimes said.
Tran is a Vietnamese immigrant in the United States on a green card visa which he obtained in 2016. He is a nail technician with family in Alva, Oklahoma and Wichita, Kansas.
The current accusations are not Tran’s first brush with the law.
“He had been convicted in Alva of making threats of violence and trespassing after being forbidden. It was an apartment in Alva against the complex owner,” Grimes said. “He was on probation.”
Because the crime was a misdemeanor offense Tran’s immigration status was not revoked.
The Canadian County case could have remained a whodunnit if not for the sketch that was sent to law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma and Kansas.
“The young lady who was kidnapped in Oklahoma City has been a good witness for us,” he said. “As I’ve told her and the DA I feel quite certain if she had not escaped she could have been killed. She was a fighter, but she has been traumatized.”
The trauma of violent crimes keeps Grimes and fellow law enforcement officers dedicated to public safety.
“I have no use for predators. My goal is to get every one of them off the streets,” he said.
Grimes said he and investigators continue to process Tran’s phone for more clues and potential victims.