Dallas Police falsely link man to series of rapes
DALLAS, TX (CNN) — Last week, Alan Mason was named a person of interest in a series of nine rapes across Texas and put in jail. Then, this week, a DNA test linked a different suspect to the crimes. That real suspect was arrested in Baton Rouge and was extradited back to Dallas.
But for Mason, huge damage was done. Police released his name and mugshot to the public. Now, he worries his reputation might never recover.
A cold shiver rippled through this south Dallas neighborhood last week when police announced that a serial rapist had carried out 9 sexual assaults in less than 3 months.
A few days later, what appeared to be a major break in the case was sent out in an urgent midnight email blast from Dallas Police. It was followed by a series of cautious tweets from the Dallas Police Chief announcing the name of the suspect. A few hours later, investigators descended on Alan Mason's, 29, doorstep.
"Mr. Mason is a person of interest in this case. At this time we don't have any charges pending against him."
It was about 3:00 a.m. when cops started banging on his door. Mason says he was asleep in his apartment about 25 miles away from the neighborhood where the sexual assaults had occurred. He thought someone was trying to break in. He had no idea his name and picture were quickly spreading all over Dallas.
"All this chaos going on, I just heard something about a serial rapist. Obviously you have the wrong guy. You are making a mistake."
Just like that mason was trapped in a nightmare.
"It was a roller coaster. It went from angry, to scared, to stressed, disbelief," he said. "Knowing I'm innocent, but at the same time, why am I here? There's nothing that should tie me. Nothing should have me here."
Turns out an anonymous tip led police to Mason. And while Mason spent the past week sitting in jail on an unrelated parole violation of a DWI charge, Dallas Police say they discovered DNA evidence linking another man, Van Dralan Dixson, 38, to the assaults.
A week after he was arrested, Dallas Police finally cleared Mason saying he's no longer a person of interest. But Mason said his reputation is ruined. He sells health insurance and is trying to start his own business. His name is now connected to a horrifying series of rapes. A sickening feeling for this father of an 8-year-old girl.
"That's my biggest fear - is not being able to live my life normally like I was living before I got here," he said.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown says officers had to move fast before the serial rapist struck again.
"Pick your poison," he said. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
Chief Brown says people need to understand the different between a "person of interest" and a "suspect." He then defended how the department treated Mason.
"We clearly stated Mr. Mason is not a suspect and we never referred to Mr. Mason as a suspect."
Ironically, Mason says he has a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice. The last week of his life feels like a case study ripped from an old textbook.