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Friday, May 6, 2016

Police continue investigation

Thursday, July 26, 2007

AREA -- The Howell County Sheriff's Department is continuing investigation of two alleged attacks near West Plains by a man posing as a law enforcement officer.

A former West Plains man, Steven Harsch, 37, was arrested July 22 and charged in Fort Worth, Texas, with impersonating an officer.

Authorities said Harsch was dressed in a dark blue uniform with a Fort Worth patch on the sleeve when he went to a woman's house and knocked on her door. The incident occurred July 20 about 12:40 a.m.

Law enforcement officers said Harsch told the woman he had been asked to check on her welfare and asked if she had any children or if anyone else was in the home.

When she told him her children were asleep he tried to push the door open and enter the house. Officers said the woman became suspicious, slammed the door and called 9-1-1. Officers said the man left in a white, four-door car.

Howell County Sheriff Robbie Crites said they are taking a second look at Harsch.

Harsch now lives in Fort Worth. He's accused of posing as a police officer and attempting to enter the home of a 28-year old woman.

The Texas crime is similar to attacks committed in West Plains in early June. In those two situations, a man dressed as a law enforcement officer used flashing lights to pull over two female drivers to get them out of their cars.

One of the women escaped and the other woman was allegedly raped.

Sheriff Crites said his office had received an anonymous tip about Harsch because he resembled a sketch of the alleged attacker.

Crites said Harsch was questioned and had an alibi that put him out of state when one of the attacks occurred. Crites said the car Harsch used in the Fort Worth crime does not match the car used in the two West Plains attacks.

Harsch is a sex offender who was convicted of indecent exposure in 2001 in Weatherford, Texas.

The sheriff said Harsch had complied with the laws pertaining to registering as a sex offender in Howell County.

Howell County authorities have traveled to Texas to investigate Harsch further.

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