Search on for sex assault suspect in Palo Alto

November 29, 2012 6:07:25 PM PST
Residents in one Palo Alto neighborhood are becoming increasingly concerned after a fourth sexual assault. The latest attack happened early Thursday morning in an apartment near the Stanford shopping center. A man broke in and tried to rape a woman who was sleeping.

The police say the female victim did everything right. She screamed and fought back which caused her attacker to run away. Police responded in a couple of minutes, but they still have not found the suspect.

"I want them to take it seriously. I want them to take it deadly seriously," Julie Greicius told ABC7 News. Neighbors like Greicius want police to do everything they can to catch the man responsible for Thursday morning's attempted sexual assault There have been other attacks nearby. "There's a pattern in this area. Not just Palo Alto, but on that corner," she said.

That corner is a popular walking path. In late September, someone rushed behind a female jogger and groped her. Police posted two sketches of what the assailant may have looked like. Thursday morning's incident happened shortly after 2 a.m. in a one-bedroom unit in an apartment building in the 100 block of Hawthorne Street. Police say the intruder forced the door open. It still has the markings of that forced entry.

The female resident, said to be in her early 20s, suddenly awoke to a man standing over her. "She sat up. She was unbelievably scared, screamed, and he grabbed onto her, made a command. She fought her way out of the situation," Det. Sgt. Brian Philip said. Police say the woman suffered a minor wrist injury during the brief struggle which ended when her assailant ran out the door.

Police responded minutes after the victim called 9-1-1. They canvassed a wide area looking for the man with the help of a K-9 unit from Mt. View. Police are treating this as an isolated incident, but they're not ruling out the possibility that the same assailant may be responsible for one or more of three other late summer assaults in the north end of Palo Alto. "They're sexual in nature when it comes to the crime and they're in a similar vicinity as the one we had today, so we'll look at all those," Philip said.

The latest assault happened on postal carrier Sarah Colgrove's route. She's heard all about the previous incidents and now, this. Even though she delivers mail in the daytime, she's still careful. "When I see men coming near me, I sometimes feel like I want to cross the street because I feel? I'm scared," she said.

Thursday's victim said her attacker is in his 20s and wore dark clothing, but that's all she could remember. Her attacker is still on the loose.


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