A 22-year-old Washington man was arrested and charged Saturday after attacks on two women on a South Arlington recreational trail, police announced yesterday.
Michael Charles Satcher, 22, of the 200 block of 37th Place SE, was arrested about noon Saturday, a little more than two hours after the first attack, as he was "closely following" a third woman on the Washington and Old Dominion bike path near South Seventh Street and Arlington Mill Drive, police said.
Arlington Lt. Elwood Hibberd said yesterday that police are trying to determine if there is any connection between Saturday's events and the slaying five months ago of Anne Elizabeth Borghesani on the Custis Trail, another Arlington bike path.
Borghesani, 23, a paralegal with a Washington law firm, was beaten and stabbed the evening of March 31 as she walked along the Custis Trail from her Arlington apartment to the Rosslyn Metro station. Her body was left in an outdoor stairwell of a building adjacent to the trail.
Police have said that they believe a single individual chased one woman and assaulted another on the same stretch of the Custis Trail less than an hour before attacking Borghesani.
Lt. Gil Haring, who heads the Crime Resistance Section of the Arlington police, said yesterday that the attacks in March and those of Saturday "were sort of similar. The fact that there were two attacks which occurred close together, on a bike path, and the ferocity of the attacks was similar to the attack on Borghesani."
No arrests have been made in the Borghesani case, police said.
In the first of Saturday's attacks, about 9:30 a.m., a 42-year-old woman walking south along the W&OD trail was grabbed from behind by a knife-wielding assailant, who dragged her into nearby woods. The woman was slightly injured but was able to fend off her attacker and flee, police said.
Two hours later, about a block away on the same trail, a 39-year-old woman was grabbed from behind and the assailant attempted to drag her into the woods. Police said the assailant was frightened away when two joggers approached, and the woman escaped.
Police did not identify either woman.
Both women were wearing headphones when they were attacked, which may have contributed to their vulnerability, Haring said. "Not only do they not hear what's going on around them, but they get so caught up in what they are hearing that they forget to be aware of what is going on in their surroundings. One of our first recommendations to joggers, walkers and bicyclists is that they not wear those headphones."
Satcher was arrested by an officer who had been called to investigate the attacks. At the time of the arrest, police said, Satcher was following a woman and was found to be concealing a knife in his shirt.
Satcher, who is employed in a Beltsville furniture warehouse, has been charged with two counts of abduction and one count of malicious wounding and was being held in the Arlington County Jail last night on $40,000 bond.
Safety has become a growing concern on Arlington's popular bicycle paths, which in some places are isolated and overgrown with foliage. After the attack on Borghesani, a task force with representatives from the Arlington police, parks and public works departments met to discuss ways to improve security on the 16 miles of trails in the county.
The task force recommended in April that lighting be increased and vegetation pruned on the section of the Custis Trail where the attack on Borghesani occurred. The task force also recommended that telephones be placed along various trails to aid pedestrians or cyclists in trouble or those who wish to call police.
Frederick Louis, of the Department of Parks and Recreation, headed up the task force and said yesterday that little more could be done. "I think it's been made as safe as possible," he said. "It's wide and well-traveled. But on the man-made tributaries and side routes leading to the main bike path, there's a problem," Louis said. "In those kinds of isolated areas, we wouldn't recommend that anyone go there, day or night. Especially not women walking alone."
Numerous paths -- some paved and some created without government assistance -- connect various neighborhoods to the W&OD and Custis trails.
Satcher was convicted in D.C. Superior Court in 1987 of one count of attempted possession of PCP and one count of attempted distribution of marijuana.
Satcher was later found guilty of violating the conditions of his probation for testing positive for cocaine and PCP use and for failing to complete a drug rehabilitation program.
No one answered the door yesterday at Satcher's apartment, one of 15 units in a run-down, red-brick building.
Several youths near the building described Satcher as a quiet man who seems to get along with his neighbors.
A neighbor, Carol Ann Johnson, said Satcher has kept to himself since moving into the apartment several months ago.Staff writers David Lindsey and Jon Meacham contributed to this report.