Sex Assault Suspect Found Dead

Thomas James Parker was arrested in connection to case on Wednesday

A Tierrasanta dad and Little Italy businessman who police said was linked to a string of sexual assaults going back to June 2008 has committed suicide, according to police.

Thomas James Parker, 39, was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly tried to assault a women in the Escala Condominium Complex in Mission Valley.

The San Diego police watch commander confirmed on Friday morning that Parker killed himself in jail. Sheriff's deputies found Parker hanging in his jail cell during a routine security check early on Friday. There was no other inmate in that cell.

On Friday afternoon, the county medical examiner's office said Parker "was found hung by the neck with a sheet in his cell." Deputies performed CPR on Parker. Officials put his time of death at 7:26 a.m.

Parker's next-door neighbor in Tierrasanta was shocked by news of Parker's suicide.

"I just feel terrible for his wife and kids," Chuck West said. "I just feel terrible. They're such nice people. It's really heartbreaking ... shocked, absolutely shocked. Very nice people, and I just feel so bad. We reach out to the wife and kids."

Tina Toth, who lives near the apartment where Parker's last alleged victim lives, said, "I'm in shocked, really shocked. You know, maybe he's just ashamed of what happened, of what he's done. So, yeah, very shocked. Unbelievable. I mean I just didn't expect that at all."

On Thursday afternoon, police said DNA matches linked Parker to three of six attacks -- not including what occurred Wednesday -- that occurred over a 13-month period.

A suspect description and other evidence tied Parker to all seven incidents, according to investigators.

Parker followed all the women home and approached them in their garages, then used zip ties to bind his victim, police said. He was also accused of threatening to rape all the women; he did not follow through on all of those threats, however, police said.

According to a neighbor who talked with Wednesday's victim, the suspect tried to shut the garage door after he followed her inside, but the woman fought back, kicking and screaming, and managed to re-open the door and flee. That got the attention of the neighbor, who chased the suspect across busy Friars Road.

An off-duty Border Patrol agent saw what was happening, intervened and arrested the suspect.

Parker’s neighbors said he was known as "Jim" and was a family man who was married with two kids. They said he lived in his Tierrasanta home for three years. He was the owner of the It’s a Grind coffeehouse in Little Italy. The shop was closed early Wednesday after employees were ordered home and investigators searched for clues.

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