LAKEWOOD, Ohio-- Lakewood police have released a composite sketch of a gunman, who robbed and raped a woman ten days ago, and investigators are now trying to determine if the same man attacked a jogger eight days ago in Cleveland.
Lakewood detectives said it was 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 31, on Warren Road between Franklin and Madison, when a woman returning home from work was robbed and then sexually assaulted by a man armed with a pistol.
The victim was able to work with a police sketch artist to produce the composite of the attacker, described as being in his 20's, 5'10" to 6' with an athletic build. He was wearing a red baseball hat, a baseball shirt with dark sleeves and was armed with a silver handgun.
Chief Tim Malley told FOX 8, "That makes it very concerning. Not only a robbery and sexual assault are certainly bad enough, but when you add a firearm into it, not only do you have trauma for the victim, but unfortunate things can certainly happen from that."
Two days after the Lakewood woman was attacked, on September 2 at 5:25 a.m. on West 104th Street near Lake Avenue In Cleveland, a woman who was jogging was chased down from behind by a gunman, who then beat and raped her.
The similarities between the two crimes and their relatively close proximity, is prompting a joint investigation by Lakewood and Cleveland police. "If it is the same person, we want to get that person. If we have two people out there doing that, that's even more concerning. We need to get both of them off the street, but we need to work together with our partners in Cleveland and the prosecutor's office and the crime lab and everybody to get this person off the street," said Chief Malley.
The crimes have women like Judith Burns on edge. Burns told FOX 8, "Why hassle people, especially women? We're the ones that gave you birth; we're the ones that taught you how to wipe your butt, you know? Leave us alone, go ahead, go get a job."
As they try to determine if the crimes are the work of one or more than one attacker, Cleveland and Lakewood police are stressing the need for women to be cautious if they're out late at night or early in the morning. "You know my mom always used to tell me 'nothing good happens after midnight,' so you know in those early morning hours, there certainly seems to be a propensity for bad people to be out on anybody's streets in any town, so you certainly need to take any precautions that you can," said Chief Malley.
With a predator or predators on the loose, women are being reminded to be mindful of their surroundings, and if possible, to make sure they do not travel alone.
"Try to be where people are. Don't be out there by yourself, because that's scary. It gives me the shivers," said Judith Burns.
DNA evidence gathered from the crimes is being sent to the crime lab, to see if there is a match in the criminal data base. Anyone who can identify the suspect from the composite sketch or surveillance video, is asked to call Lakewood or Cleveland police.