January 10, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---A woman was attacked by a rapist as she returned to her home before dawn in one of Augusta's best neighborhoods--the Hill area.
It happened early Tuesday in the 2500 block of Walton Way, near Augusta State University.
Richmond County investigators released a sketch of a man they think is the suspect. They need your help to find him.
Investigators say they have a few solid leads in a case they call unusual. A 74-year-old woman was attacked by someone she doesn't know in an area where many neighbors never thought something like this could happen.
"It's devastating, because she couldn't defend herself," said ASU student Tracy Fields. She was surprised to hear the attack happened just a block from where she waits to catch a bus home from school.
Not only is ASU right across the street, but this is also a popular area for runners and walkers--people who are often out for their morning workout around the same time the attack happened.
The incident report says that this morning around 6, the 74-year-old woman took her dog for a walk. On her way back home, a man forced her inside her apartment, stole jewelry and cash, and forced her to have sex.
"It's not only unusual in that area, it's unusual in Augusta altogether," said Maj. Ken Autry. "We don't have that many stranger-to-stranger rapes."
Maj. Autry says ten of last year's 91 rape reports were between strangers.
Rape crisis specialist Charlotte Murton says cases like those often cause the victims to fear crowds and most social situations.
"It's a different traumatic event, someone you don't know. When you're in the event, you don't know what they're going to do, what their habits are, how to get out of it," she said.
The thought of a stranger attacking has Tracy on guard: "Be watchful, have somebody with me at all times and be aware of who's around me at all times."
It's a new awareness for the entire neighborhood. In a place once considered a safe haven, people say they're going to start locking their doors. We also talked to a woman on her afternoon dog walk who plans to get a neighborhood watch together, and more deputy patrols are driving through the area.
Augusta State isn't the only school in the area. Richmond Academy, Tubman Middle School, and Langley Middle School are all nearby, and there are several school bus stops right near the townhomes where this incident took place.
This is a composite sketch of the suspect. If you have any information, contact the police.
Here's how you can reduce your risk of being sexually assaulted.
First, trust your gut. If you don't feel comfortable in a situation, leave.
Be cautious inviting someone into your home or going to someone else's home.
Walk near the curb.
Avoid passing close to shrubbery, dark doorways, or other places of concealment.
Also, use well-lit entrances. If you notice an entrance without good lighting, notify your landlord or a maintenance person.