PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Police say a man arrested for raping a woman in Bethlehem, Pa., could be a sexual predator, and they are looking for more victims from the Pittsburgh area.
Authorities believe 30-year-old Seth Mull has been involved in sexually assaulting women and holding them against their will. His victims are from all across the country, including possibly 12 women from the Pittsburgh area.
“He is a predator, and that’s something I personally don’t like and anybody else who has children out there,” Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said.
KDKA’s Bob Allen Reports:
“Once the women are in his presence, he becomes aggressive and controlling,” Northampton Co. DA John Morganelli said.
Mull was arrested back in October after authorities say he refused to let a woman leave his hotel room in Bethlehem. Police say he kept her there for 24 hours, where he raped, strangled and burned her with cigarettes. She only escaped after she texted someone for help.
The victim said she met him on a dating website.
It was that arrest that led other victims to come forward with allegations of being held against their will.
“There was definitely force used against these women. It sounds as if they were raped. It sounds as if they were physically assaulted. They were abducted — taken somewhere against their will — so all of those pieces are what we do see in a trafficking case,” Dr. Mary Burke, a Professor of Psychology at Carlow University, said.
Police are still trying to determine if Mull was involved in human trafficking, but investigators say he appeared to use threats to keep the women from escaping.
“One of the most powerful threats, as you might imagine, would be threatening the victim’s family, so if that threat is made, it really ensures compliance,” Burke said.
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It is believed that Mull used social media and dating apps to meet and lure women. Police have received complaints from as far away as California and Hawaii – women coming forward with stories, like the ones officials believe attracted women from the Pittsburgh area as well.
“We need to know what occurred with this individual and any other young lady out there,” DiLuzio said.
One woman from the Pittsburgh area, who we are not identifying, told KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland, “I met him on a dating site called ‘PlentyOfFish.’ He was sweet at first, calling me beautiful and cute things like that.”
“A perpetrator might cultivate feelings in the victim for him or her,” Burke said. “In sex trafficking, we call that a Romeo trafficker, where the trafficker will very purposefully have the person develop feelings for him.”
But then, the woman says, Mull started to get pushy.
“[He would ask,] ‘When are we meeting up? Why don’t you want to meet me? Where do you live so I can come meet you?'” she said.
“A male trafficker with a younger woman or girl, he might act as a boyfriend, take her out, express romantic interest,” Burke said.
But for this woman, it didn’t feel right.
“Something just didn’t seem to add up,” she said. “I just stopped texting him and he finally got the hint.”
KDKA’s Kym Gable Reports:
“It’s my understanding that this man threatened human trafficking, so my guess is he was threatening sex trafficking to the women who he was perpetrating against,” Burke said.
It all came flooding to the Pittsburgh-area woman when pictures of Mull surfaced this past weekend.
“When I saw his face on the news, I freaked out. I told my parents that I knew him and we were in contact,” she said. “I blocked him on everything — Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and his phone number. I felt sick to my stomach, like that could have been me if I didn’t follow my gut instincts.”
Authorities say one of the reasons they are putting Mull’s picture out there is to help other victims come forward.
If you know him, or about some of his activities in the Pittsburgh area, police want to hear from you.
The FBI in Philadelphia is handling this case. If you have had any contact with Seth Mull, they want to hear from you. You can contact the FBI at 215-418-4000 or online at tips.fbi.gov.