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Police: Woman sexually assaulted weeks after another attack on Durham trail

Posted November 12, 2015

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— Durham police are investigating a violent sexual assault that was reported Wednesday night on the Ellerbe Creek Trail near Washington Street and West Club Boulevard.

According to investigators, the victim was walking on the trail at about 6:15 p.m. when a man came up behind her, choked her into unconsciousness and pulled her into the woods, where he sexually assaulted her.

The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment, and police said she was unable to provide a description of her attacker.

A separate incident was also reported on the trail on Oct. 22.

A woman told officer she was walking on the trail near Dacian Avenue at about 5:15 p.m. when a man came up behind her and choked her. He did not sexually assault her, police said.

Kim Hernandez lives nearby and said she is shocked by the attacks.

"Runners take (the trail), female runners take (the trail) without any trouble, without any sense of I need to look behind my back," she said. "It is unusual. It is not expected and it is a concern."

Police said the man's hair was described as a short afro that was dyed in the front to "look like a cheetah."

The suspect was described as a black male wearing black jogging pants, a white tank top and a blue and red hat. He was about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a muscular build. He weighed about 140 to 150 pounds.

Anyone with information about either of the two incidents should call Durham Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

Police also shared the following personal safety tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Call 911 to report any suspicious activities
  • Do not walk alone
  • Try to remain in well-lit areas
  • Trust your instincts
  • Do not walk/run with earbuds or headphones
  • Bring a cellphone
18 Comments

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  • Howard Roark Nov 13, 2015
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    No one is blaming the victim for exercising their right. Just because you have a right to do it doesn't mean it's a great idea. I think that's pretty clear here.

  • William James Nov 13, 2015
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    Its good advice for women to travel in pairs, travel with caution, don't dress and attack attention, etc, but the best advice I can give to women is carry a quick open pocket knife and be prepared to use it. It's hard for a man to take a knife from you without getting cut and its easier for police to find these guys if they have a knife in the gut. Sure it may not work, but the alternative is to be the next story header.

  • Joe Simpson Nov 13, 2015
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    I rather suspect that men *don't* think it's OK to rape women. I am pretty sure this guy knew he was doing something wrong.

  • Anne Davis Nov 13, 2015
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    If you walk or jog alone in places where violent animals are common, then you are taking a dangerous risk. For example, in Africa or where this attack happened.

  • Marcy Lyn Nov 12, 2015
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    I am a Rape victim from 25 years ago and it times have gotten worse. Women should ALWAYS walk in pairs or more !!!

    Not blaming the victim, but Gee... in this day and time, dont walk alone in an area where you could be completely out of sight from everyone ( execpt an attacker ) .

  • SusanandAaron Tambot-Blankenship Nov 12, 2015
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    You have the right to walk the streets or trails when you like. You should not blame the victims for exercising their freedoms.

  • Andrew Sugg Nov 12, 2015
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    I'm sorry this happened, but Lisa Gibson has it right. This could very likely have been avoided (or a future incident) if folks would NOT walk/run/exercise alone at all on trails, and especially at night. This is true of any place, not just Durham.

  • Mark Aman Nov 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Be aware of your surroundings
    Call 911 to report any suspicious activities
    Do not walk alone
    Try to remain in well-lit areas
    Trust your instincts
    Do not walk/run with earbuds or headphones
    Bring a cellphone Plus One More Get a handgun and learn to carry and use it effectively and safely.

  • cdurham Nov 12, 2015

    Paul, This part of the trail is fairly isolated. I would feel okay with other people, but not by myself. We have lovely walking trails throughout our neighborhood which is nearby. This is very unusual. Yes, we have break ins from time to time but rarely attacks.

  • Paul Donovan Nov 12, 2015
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    Why would a place like Durham think it is a good idea to have trails where people are invited to walk or run in these areas ? Trouble looking for a place to happen.

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