Recent assault may be work of serial rapist

A local serial rapist may be on the prowl again.

A man in a dark ski mask assaulted a 29-year-old woman outside her home on the 100 block of Camelia Drive Monday afternoon, according to Charlottesville Police Sgt. Richard Hudson.

The suspect may be linked to the attacks of several women over the past six years, according to Charlottesville Police Detective Jim Mooney.

"There's a possibility it could be [the serial rapist], there's a possibility it couldn't be," Mooney said. "We got a very vague description."

Mooney described the suspect as a black male between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighing about 180 pounds.

Hudson added that, in addition to the mask, the man was wearing dark clothes and a fleece-like top. Therefore, police cannot provide a sketch of the suspect.

"The description is basically the same" as the one describing the serial rapist, Hudson said.

He added that Monday's assailant used a similar attack method as compared to the previous assaults, which could potentially link the cases. Hudson emphasized, however, that "this is not conclusive in any way."

The assailant appears to have been motivated by sexual intentions, Hudson said.

"While we cannot say what anyone's intentions were exactly, the type of assault indicates that [sexual assault] may have been a motivation," he said.

The attacker struck around 2:00 p.m. while the woman was working outside her home. A struggle ensued, during which the attacker tore the woman's shirt, according to Hudson.

The woman "managed to extricate herself" and the attacker ran away shortly thereafter, Hudson said.

"It was a brazen attack at a very public venue," he said. The attacker "ran away, perhaps because of the possibility of being seen," he said.

The woman called 911 and authorities soon arrived at the scene.

The rescue squad did a preliminary examination upon arrival and determined that she was not seriously injured, although she did receive "a blow to the head and some minor abrasions," Hudson said.

She went to the University Medical Center emergency room to receive a more thorough examination.

Forensic experts gatheredsome evidence from the crime scene, Mooney said. He declined to discuss the evidence "because it is important to the case."

Regardless of whether the attack is linked to the serial rapist, both City and University police said they see this as an occasion to remind community members of safety guidelines.

"People need to pay close attention and be aware of their surroundings," Hudson said. "If they see someone exhibiting bizarre behavior, they should call 911."

University Police Sgt. Melissa Fielding expressed similar concerns.

"Crimes like this can occur any time of day or night anywhere," she said. "It is important to remain aware of your surroundings."

Fielding encouraged community members to report information to the police more freely.

"We would much rather be called and not needed than needed and not called," she said.

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