The Cavalier Daily
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Patrolling increases in Venable school vicinity

The Charlottesville and University police departments are concentrating their manpower to find the man who raped a University student last week and to help assuage concerns about safety in the University area.

Charlottesville Police Chief J. W. "Buddy" Rittenhouse has declared the armed rape of a University student Thursday a "priority case" and employed the joint efforts of city, University and Albemarle police.

"At one time or another, all of our 15 detectives have been working on this case," Rittenhouse said.

Charlottesville Police Lt. J. E. "Chip" Harding said three University detectives and one from Albemarle County also are assisting city police.

While investigators have not secured any firm leads, Harding said detectives are whittling down a list of suspects.

"We have a long list of people we're looking at," he said. "We're looking at people with histories of sexual crimes and those convicted of burglaries in the area."

According to police, the incident occurred Aug. 26 shortly after 4 a.m. in the Venable neighborhood between 15th Street NW and Rugby Road off of Grady Avenue.

The victims, a male and a female University student, friends who had fallen asleep after returning from a party, reported being woken up by a man with a gun.

The man ordered the male student not to look at his face as he blindfolded and raped the female.

After the rape, the assailant forced the female to take a shower.

Two other students were in the apartment at the time but were unaware of the attack.

The suspect was described as a black, heavyset man between 5 feet 8 inches and six feet tall, in his mid 20s.

Investigators also still do not know how the perpetrator entered the victims' apartment.

According to Harding, no windows or doors were broken, even though police did find windows and one side door left unlocked.

At present, evidence collected by four forensic detectives last week is being analyzed in labs.

"We sent dozens and dozens of items to the lab for analysis," Harding said. "Right now, we don't have any completed analysis to work with."

In addition to evidence investigations, police are hoping to tap community resources with the help of a $10,000 reward put up by the University and an anonymous group of concerned parents. The attempted sexual assault of a student Monday also has raised safety concerns. (See related story, page A1.)

University Police Capt. Michael Coleman said the University Police also boosted manpower and local patrols.

"We've increased not only our on-Grounds presence, but we've also offered supplemental officers to patrol the Venable area," Coleman said.

Rittenhouse said Streethawks - special patrol units - have been relocated from other parts of Charlottesville to cover the student-dominated Venable neighborhood.

The Streethawks "have been moved in that area to work with University police in targeting certain areas where we traditionally have problems with every year," he said.

He added that the increased police presence is designed to ease student anxieties and curb the annual peak in thefts as students move in and valuables frequently are left unattended.

"Increased larcenies is an annual occurrence - we've been getting all sorts of reports of broken car windows and stolen items," Rittenhouse said.