A man in a dark shirt and hat emblazoned POLICE has raped 10 girls and a young woman after "arresting" them - a string of attacks that has made people on the American Indian reservation suspicious of even the real officers investigating the case.
Residents of the White Mountain Apache tribal capital of Whiteriver are bolting their doors, walking in pairs and demanding their children are inside by sundown.
"It's unsettling," said Gwendena Real Bird, who has a 5-year-old daughter. "It makes you very uneasy. I just can't fathom the trauma those girls experienced."
The phony police officer has been attacking victims since March on a dusty trail that winds behind more than 100 homes in Whiteriver. He tells his victims they are under arrest, then handcuffs and rapes them.
At first, nine of the 11 victims did not report that they had been attacked because they thought a police officer raped them. Eight came forward only when investigators canvassed the neighbourhood recently to tell residents what was happening. Police found another victim after receiving an anonymous call.
"It has created an atmosphere of fear," said Warren Youngman, assistant agent in charge at the US Bureau of Indian Affairs. "When we did our neighbourhood canvassing, we had people afraid of our officers."
The rapes have occurred between 10 pm and 2 am on or near a two-mile trail that Whiteriver residents use as a shortcut to travel among six subdivisions.
Investigators have described the rapist only as an Amerian Indian of medium build, 20 to 40 years old.