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Police pursue serial groper in Federal Way | Composite sketch of suspect released
Federal Way police notified the public of a serial groper who’s been violating local women since January. Six attacks have occurred since the beginning of 2011, with the most recent happening May 11.
Three of the incidents have occurred in the north end of the city, with those attacks concentrated along South 288th Street. The other three attacks came in the general vicinity of South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South.
According to a May 16 news release, the attacker “approaches his victims from behind and gropes their buttocks or pelvic area.” The attacks on South 288th Street all happened as the victims were walking home from bus stops. The release notes that the attacker will sometimes talk to his victims, saying things like “You look pretty, come with me.” In one instance, the attacker offered to pay the victim.
At this time, the unknown attacker has fled the scene when victims struggle, and has not used a weapon. Police are concerned because while violence has mostly stayed out of the attacks, the attacker’s “frequency of incidents” is increasing. There was one attack recorded in January, one in March, two in April and now one in May.
In the release, it was shared that the attacker’s victims typically stand between 5 feet and 5-feet-8-inches tall and weigh between 100 and 130 pounds, with ages ranging from 14 to 21 years. One victim fell outside of that description, a 46-year-old woman, but police are confident it was the same attacker, said Federal Way police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock.
“He typically approaches from behind, and has a hoodie over his head,” she said. “He uses one hand to control them, does his groping and then runs off.”
Schrock said police think the fondler preys on small statured women because it makes them easier to control.
Capturing an accurate description of the attacker has been difficult because of his modus operandi, said Schrock. So far, police have gotten partial descriptions of the attacker. Here’s what they know:
• White male, 24-30 years old
• He stands between 5-foot-6 and 5-feet-8-inches tall and weight 160 pounds with a medium build
• Hair is described as shoulder length, either red or brown in color
• Facial hair: Suspect is either clean shaven or has a red-colored beard
• Clothing: Layered hoodie sweatshirts with hood up and a bright orange beanie
Schrock said the city wants people to rely on strength in numbers. With the attacks coming at typically isolated locations, staying together is important, she said.
“The most important thing is for people to try not to be alone in areas like this,” she said. “If you are exiting the bus, try and stay with a small group of people who are heading in the same direction you are.”
For anyone affected by a crime like this, reporting it to the police may be difficult because of the strangeness of the attacks. Schrock said in order to catch the fondler, they need as much information as possible. Police ask that anyone who has been a victim of this type of attack to contact police by calling 911. For those who might have an idea who the attacker is, the Federal Way police tip line can be reached at (253) 835-6799.