The Houston Police Officers Union selected Officer Monica Fortson as Investigator of the Month in its August general membership meeting.
During the month of March Officer Fortson was assigned to investigate 13 sexual assault cases. She noticed that there were similarities regarding modus operandi, suspect description, vehicle description and area of sexual assaults.
The suspect was targeting women that were by themselves. He would approach them in a vehicle and engage them in a conversation. The suspect would then display a knife or a gun and order these women into his vehicle. In most of the cases he would then punch them in the face after they got in his vehicle and then he would drive off to a secluded area and sexually assault them.
Sgt. Bill Madden said, “These cases were complicated and difficult to investigate due to the majority of these women were not wanting to pursue their case or were difficult to locate.
“Some of these women were later found to have moved out of Houston and even the state. Officer Fortson was very tenacious in trying to reach out and locate these women multiple times to secure their cooperation on moving forward with their investigations.
“She was subsequently successful in gaining some of these women’s trust in moving forward with their investigation. During this time Officer Fortson followed up on several possible suspects. Eligible DNA evidence from five of these cases was entered into CODIS; however, no match was found in this database.”
Madden said that Fortson received information that a registered sex offender in Fort Worth was the registered owner of a vehicle used in some of these assaults. She went to Fort Worth and interviewed this individual. The officer learned that this man had sold his vehicle to a co-worker, Marquis Tate. She also determined that Tate had family members in Northeast Houston and also tied some other vehicles to this “person of interest,” who fit the description of the alleged attacker.
“Officer Fortson was then able to get Marquis Tate identified by several complainants when presenting a photo array of Marquis Tate,” Sgt. Madden said. “She also had investigators from the Las Vegas Police Department assist in showing her photo array to a complainant who since moved to Las Vegas with positive results.
“Officer Fortson has since filed eight felony aggravated sexual assault charges on Marquis Tate in seven out of the now 19 cases. Marquis Tate’s DNA was subsequently matched to the complainant’s sexual assault rape kits after his arrest. When arrested and interviewed Marquis Tate denied sexually assaulting the complainants, saying the sexual encounters were consensual.
“The efforts of Officer Fortson should be commended for the countless hours of hard work and dedication she devoted to seeking justice for these multiple complainants and ensuring that this predator is off the streets.”
Madden said after Fortson conducted a June 13 news conference “many other sexual assault victims” came forward to identify Tate as their attacker.
“Officer Fortson makes a positive daily impact on the Special Victims Division and her hard work and dedication are very much recognized and appreciated,” Madden said.