Woman Grabbed From Behind In Tenth Attack in Five Months

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A 63-year-old Fairfax County woman was attacked by a masked man as she walked home from a bus stop Monday evening, and police think it is the 10th such assault committed by the same man since August.

Six of the attacks have occurred in eastern Fairfax, in neighborhoods in the Falls Church, Annandale and Springfield areas, and four were on the west side of Alexandria. All of the victims have been women, ranging in age from 18 to 63, and some of the assaults were sexual in nature, police said. None of the victims -- who are white, black, Asian and Hispanic -- was raped or robbed, and none sustained serious injuries.

Each time, a man in dark clothing and a dark ski mask has grabbed a woman from behind as she walked alone, sometimes hitting her in the face, and then tried to drag her from the sidewalk. The only similarity among the victims is that they were walking alone at night, Fairfax Officer Eddy J. Azcarate said.

Descriptions of the attacker have varied. One victim estimated that he was 5 feet 1 inch tall; another said he was 6 feet. No one has been able to say what race he is. He has often stopped his attack when the woman screams or a passerby enters the area, police said.

In Monday's assault, a Falls Church area woman was walking in the 7300 block of Allan Avenue, just west of the boundary with Falls Church. The woman reported that, shortly before 8 p.m., she was grabbed from behind and dragged into a dark area, police said.

When a car drove past, the attacker fled. Police did not characterize the assault as sexual, and the woman was not injured.

The woman described the man as about 5 feet 9 and weighing about 150 pounds, wearing dark clothing and a ski mask, Azcarate said. Other victims have described the man as having a medium build.

Fairfax and Alexandria police have been working together on the investigation, and "our detectives are pursuing numerous leads in this case," Alexandria Lt. James Bartlett said. He said the four assaults in Alexandria were sexual in nature.

Alexandria has not had an incident since Dec. 19, while Fairfax has had three since Jan. 6. Fairfax police reminded nighttime pedestrians yesterday to walk in well-lit, well-populated areas whenever possible, to be alert to their surroundings and avoid taking shortcuts, and to walk with another person when possible.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS.

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