This is the kind of attack in which the trauma can impact what the victim recalls about the rapist. But UCSC police have a very detailed description and now a sketch that may help them track him down.
"I can see when I come up here at dusk or at dawn, I'm much more concerned, but in the middle of the day, not a good thing," trail user Andrea Struble said.
An uneasiness has surfaced along the hillside trails that cut across a popular Santa Cruz park and the U.C. Santa Cruz campus.
A 21-year-old woman was visiting the school when she was raped and battered on a wooded trail near the Upper Quarry Amphitheater on Sunday at 12:30 in the afternoon. The trail is close to the student union and a complex of classroom buildings, but it is shielded from view by stands of towering redwood trees.
The path is located in a relatively remote section of the U.C. Santa Cruz campus. And on a three-day holiday weekend, it's probably not likely many people were out here, even though this attack happened in the middle of the day.
Despite her injuries, the woman was able to give university police a detailed description of the suspect. He is described as a 200 pound muscular or stocky white man in his 30s with black hair, green eyes, a moustache, and goatee. He was about 5' 10" tall.
"This victim provided police with an amazing description of her assailant, very detailed," said UCSC Public Information Director Jim Burns. "We're extremely grateful for that. We're also happy to report that she's been released from the local hospital where she was taken. That's good news."
A campus alert was activated, sending out calls and text messages. However, two students sitting near the trail were not aware of the attack. They were taken aback that this incident happened during the day.
"I've told people like not to walk around alone on campus, especially at night," UCSC student Tyler Trahune said. "So that's always my concern a little bit." When reminded that this happened during the middle of the day, Trahune said, "Yeah, so you can't really always be safe."
And now the joggers and dog walkers who live off-campus are also on the alert for a rapist who might be lurking along the trails they have assumed are safe until now.
"That's just a terrible tragedy and I sure hope that the woman is okay and that the person is caught who did this," trail user Janet Croteau said.
Santa Cruz police have been putting flyers around the city, trying to get the sketch out to the public.
Anyone with information is asked to contact UC Santa Cruz Police on their anonymous tip line at 831-459-3TIP or 831-459-3847.