PARK FOREST, Ill. (WLS) --Police have charged Monroe Akins with six sex assaults that occurred in Park Forest and Richton Park after police said victims in the case all identified him in a line-up.
For months, Park Forest residents have been on edge, so much so that Barbara Brown never went outside alone without her dog or a can of mace.
"You keep your fingers crossed and be aware of surroundings at all times, never let your guard down," Brown said.
But residents can now let their guard down a bit, as police charged Akins, 37, in connection with the incidents Sunday.
Akins is allegedly responsible for sexually abusing six different female victims in attacks that began in March and ended in June, police said. All the victims were walking alone in Park Forest and Richton Park when the incidents occurred, police said.
Essence Williams was near her home when a man approached her from behind. In a June interview, the 18-year-old described what happened.
"He followed me into my yard, and I pulled my phone out to call someone, and that's when he grabbed me and told me, 'Don't fight, I have a gun,'" Williams said. "What scared him off, I think, was when I escalated my voice yelling for help and my dog was parking and everything."
Essence was able to free herself and call for help.
In another incident, a victim was on her way to high school when she was attacked. In two other cases, victims were either walking to or home from the Metra station.
Residents say the arrest is a huge relief.
"I'm glad the police were on the job and finally got the perp locked up," Brown said.
"This is cool. This is good news, this is important trail to people in community, now that we know the man is behind bars, a lot of people should be able to sleep better at night," said Trevell Southall, a resident.
Akins is being held on $750,000 bond. Park Forest police will discuss details of the case in a conference Monday.