Philadelphia police are still searching for the suspect in an attack that unfolded inside Fairmount Park near Chestnut Hill earlier this month.
At around 8:40 a.m., April 11, a man tackled and attempted to sexually assault a 17-year-old girl who was jogging in the woods along the Wissahickon Valley Orange Trail near the Cresheim Creek.
After a short struggle, the teen was able to break free from her assailant and flee the scene without injury. She ran until she saw a group of women, one of whom lent her a cell phone to call 911.
“[There are] no suspects. No one is in custody. No warrants have been issued,” said Special Victims Unit Sgt. Donald O’Hara in a phone interview Friday.
O’Hara said detectives have and continue to interview witnesses connected to the case. They are also following up on a few tips people have phoned in and emailed, he said.
“At this point we don’t have a whole lot to work with,” said O’Hara.
The victim described the attacker as a Hispanic male, about 5’8” to 5’11”, with broad shoulders. She also told police he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants at the time.
The girl’s mother, who has asked not to be identified to protect her daughter’s identity, told Newsworks.org that it’s likely the man behind the April 11 attack is the Fairmount Park rapist.
Police officially have not made that link yet saying there is not enough hard evidence to back that up. The Fairmount Park rapist is blamed for four assaults, one of which ended with the murder of medical student Rebecca Park.
In an effort to aid detectives in their investigation, a group of family friends have started a fundraising campaign to create a monetary award for anyone who can lead police to the attacker. The mother said that the city’s Citizens Crime Commission will be involved in the effort, which may officially start as early as this week.
“If there’s money out there and somebody knows this guy, it might be a way for them to find him,” said the mother.
The mother has also started posting police department flyers in and around the neighborhood that warn park users that the Fairmont Park rapist has never been caught. It’s all part of an effort to rid the idyllic city spot of a decidedly black cloud.
” It’s our backyard and such a beautiful place that so many people love and they feel really angry that he’s sort of taken it away in this way,” she said.