Hyattsville community on alert after string of rapes

April 27, 2012

Police are investigating a series of rapes near the West Hyattsville Metro station over the past four months, the latest on April 20 near the Chillum Community Park, authorities said.

Three rapes have occurred along the Northwest Branch
Hiker/Biker Trail since January, according to Maryland-National Capital Park Police Capt. Stanley Johnson. Police have not conclusively linked the cases but are investigating the possibility the same attacker could be responsible because the descriptions of the assailants are similar, he said.

Each of the victims said her attacker was a Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s, about 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds.

“There are some similarities in the descriptions” of the assailants in the first two cases, Johnson said. “Facially, the similarities were that they had thick eyebrows and rather puffy cheeks, but that’s about it. When you look at the composites, they’re close enough to see a resemblance but not close enough to call it the same person.”

The assailant in the third attack was described as having a slight mustache, Johnson said. In that case, the victim was a 14-year-old girl, while the others were women in their twenties or thirties. Police said the attacker in the third case had a handgun, not a knife, as was used in the other two cases, and the teenager was robbed, while the other women were not.

Hyattsville police are looking into a sexual assault in the 2700 block of Jamestown Road. In that case, a Hispanic man forced a woman into the woods and told her to remove her shirt, Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland said.

Holland said trail users should be aware of their surroundings and travel in groups. He said Hyattsville and park police are increasing patrols in the area and passing out information fliers.

“We, along with the other departments, are obviously putting extra emphasis on this, extra personnel dedicated to this,” Holland said. “All the various departments are communicating on a very regular basis . . . sharing leads, sharing information.”

Anyone with information is asked to call park police at 301-459-9091 or Hyattsville police at 301-985-5060.

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