A 21-year-old woman has come forward in what police say is the sixth reported attack on young women and teenage girls at Fairfax County shopping malls since February.
The woman told police on Monday that she was shopping at the T.J. Maxx at Fairfax Towne Center on June 8 when she felt something pinch her skirt, police said.
At the time, she thought that she had been cut by a hanger and did not think much of the incident, police said.
But after police recently connected a string of five seemingly random slashings that began on Valentine's Day, the woman realized she may have been a victim of a similar attack.
"This is an example of this happening to other people who didn't realize it at the time," said Fairfax County police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell. "The more information police have, the more they have to work with, and the better chance they'll make an apprehension."
As of Tuesday, police still do not have solid leads on the suspect's identity, and the investigation is ongoing.
In each incident, the suspect distracted the victim before slashing her with a box cutter or razor, police said. The victims ranged in age from 15 to 25, and the women were attacked in the afternoon or evening, when stores were likely to be busy, police said.
"The attacks do appear random," Caldwell said. "Certainly no one would be expecting or suspecting anything like this to occur."
The suspect is described as a heavyset Latino man in his late 20s, police said. He is about 5-foot-6, and various surveillance tapes show him wearing a white wristwatch on his left arm.
In the June 8 incident, the woman told police she remembered seeing a man picking up pieces of clothing after she felt the pinch.
When she returned home, she discovered cuts in her skirt, police said. She did not require medical treatment.