In this undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Billy Joe Harris is shown. Harris, 53, was taken into custody early Saturday morning, Jan. 8, 2011.
By PAUL J. WEBER , The Associated Press
EDNA, Texas — Texas authorities say a state prison employee suspected of being a serial rapist who targeted elderly women may have eluded police partly because he had no prior criminal history.
Billy Joe Harris has been held on a burglary charge in Jackson County, about 100 miles southeast of Houston since Saturday. The Texas Department of Public Safety says DNA samples link the 53-year-old to at least five assaults or attempted assaults over the past two years.
DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said the state previously had none of Harris' DNA in its criminal database to compare against evidence because he has no apparent criminal history.
Authorities say Harris has also worked as a correctional officer at the Texas Youth Commission, which was unraveled by a sex-abuse scandal involving guards assaulting juvenile inmates.