Fairfax County police believe that an Aug. 27 assault on a woman on Glengyle Road, north of Nottoway Park, is linked to two similar assaults that occurred the morning of Aug. 24, between the park and the Vienna Metro station.
Officer Richard Henry, Fairfax County police spokesman, said the proximity of the attacks to each other, as well as the similarity in victims' descriptions of their assailant and the types of attack, led police to conclude they were all perpetrated by the same person.
At 7:26 the morning of Aug. 24, according to police reports, a 39-year-old woman called police to report that after a man had passed her on a connector trail between Nottoway Park and the Metro, he had turned around and grabbed her shorts from behind. She screamed and ran, and the suspect fled. A few minutes later, a second woman called to report that she had been accosted about 20 minutes prior. She had been walking on Country Creek Road near the Metro station when a man had groped her from behind, said police. Neither victim was injured.
ON AUG. 27, a 37-year-old woman reported that at about 9:50 p.m. she had been walking near her home on Glengyle Drive, north of Nottoway Park, when a man assaulted her from behind and attempted to pull down her shorts. She received non-life threatening injuries.
"Officers for that area are very alert to the situation," said Henry, noting that several officers and detectives had been out to the neighborhoods to speak with residents and that the area is being patrolled regularly.
Pamela Frazier, president of the Country Creek Homeowners' Association in the neighborhood of the first assault, said she is hopeful that the perpetrator will be caught in the event of another such incident. She noted that it is a neighborhood where residents tend to be outside and in view of the streets and that the police response to the first incidents was immediate and thorough.
Frazier said she thought it was "very odd" that police did not catch him the first time. "They canvassed the entire neighborhood," she said.
WITHIN LESS than half an hour after the first report was called in, she said, a helicopter was buzzing overhead, and unmarked police cars were cruising the neighborhood. She also noted that police posted word of the attacks on all mailboxes in the area and walked from door to door to speak with residents and leave a sketch and description of the assailant.
It was difficult, she said, to discern the seriousness of the attacker's intent, with one of the incidents taking place on a well-traveled road in front of witnesses. "We're just hoping it doesn't turn into something more serious," she said.
Henry agreed, adding that it can be difficult to guage such a perpetrator's state of mind. "You don't really know what their thinking is or what their intentions are, and that's part of the concern," he said.
Police are recommending that residents be alert to their surroundings, walk in pairs or groups and call police if they see anything unusual, said Henry.
"We're being a little bit more cautious," said Frazier, adding that the police, in turn, appear to have stepped up patrols in the area. "We have recommended that people keep their front doors locked when they're in the house and keep an eye out and, if they see anything suspicious, to call the police. Don't think about it — just call."