Crime

Police accuse man charged with two Charlotte sexual assaults of being serial rapist

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Lt. Melanie Peacock said cases like Lance Elam’s are rare in Charlotte. Elam is charged in two cases of sexual assault in Charlotte.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Lt. Melanie Peacock said cases like Lance Elam’s are rare in Charlotte. Elam is charged in two cases of sexual assault in Charlotte. emorgan@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police accuse a man charged with two Charlotte sexual assaults of being a serial rapist who faces additional charges in Texas and South Carolina since 2016.

Police charged Lance Elam, 30, with sexually assaulting two women he did not know in Charlotte in separate incidents in 2016. Police say Elam is also charged with a burglary in Midland, Texas, and another sexual assault in Bluffton, S.C.

CMPD said a woman woke up Jan. 9, 2016, to a masked, gloved man at gunpoint in her Clemson Avenue home, where he sexually assaulted her. On Aug. 7, 2016, police said a similar assault happened to another woman in her Runway Bay Drive apartment. The victims did not know each other.

Elam became a person of interest when evidence collected from the January assault matched evidence from the Midland burglary the same month in a crime lab, police said. CMPD did not have probable cause to arrest him at that time. Lt. Melanie Peacock, who works with CMPD’s Violent Crime Unit, said her department exhausted every effort – including working with Texas authorities – to find Elam. A new lead in the case emerged April 28 when Bluffton police arrested Elam on charges of sexually assaulting a woman there.

DNA from all three cases matched Elam’s, police say.

Elam
Police arrested Lance Elam, 30, after evidence from a sexual assault in South Carolina linked him to two Charlotte cases. CMPD

Police said Elam had family in North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. He’s currently in custody in South Carolina with no immediate timetable for return to Mecklenburg County.

In the Charlotte cases, Elam faces charges that include rape, kidnapping, breaking and entering and assault with a deadly weapon.

Peacock said these cases are extremely uncommon in Charlotte. Ninety-percent of sexual assault cases occur when the victim and the perpetrator know each other, she said.

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