Local News

Suspect In Durham Attack Arrested On Charges From 2001

Posted June 28, 2004

— A man arrested Saturday in connection with the attack of a female jogger in Duke Forest was served Monday with warrants related to a 2001 case in which a woman was attacked while walking on the American Tobacco Trail.

The man, identified as Fernando Guillen Asta, had been No. 2 on Durham's 10 Most-Wanted list.

When he was arrested by Duke police for an attempted assault Saturday, he said his name was Lorenzo Espinosa Mondragon. He was cited for a misdemeanor, questioned about two other recent attacks at Duke Forest, and then released.

Asta, 32, was picked up at his residence at Colonial Apartments at 1 p.m. Monday by both Durham and Duke police. He was charged with attempted kidnapping and attempted rape in connection with the 2001 case.

Asta had been wanted by the Durham Police Department for failure to appear in court on the 2001 charges.

"Through interviews and by working the case, we were able to find out his identity and correct address," said Maj. Phyllis Cooper, of Duke Police.

In the 2001 case, a woman told police she was walking on the American Tobacco Trail near Pilot Street around 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 30, 2001, when a man she had seen a few minutes earlier in a convenience store parking lot approached her. According to police, the man grabbed the woman and implied that he was armed with a gun.

The woman struggled and screamed and was able to run away.

Several people at the convenience store identified the man and told officers where he lived. Officers arrested Asta a few minutes later at an apartment on Pilot Street.

Asta showed up for his first appearance in court but did not show up for a later court hearing in January 2002, Durham police reported. "Failure to appear" warrants against Asta were issued Jan. 28, 2002.

Asta was arrested Saturday in connection with an attempted assault that happened at about 5:10 p.m., off N.C. 751 near Kerley Road. According to Cooper, a woman jogging in Duke Forest said she was confronted by a man who jumped out of the bushes and stood in her path.

The woman managed to run away and call police from a nearby food market.

About 20 minutes later, another woman was stabbed in the abdomen as she jogged in Duke Forest near N.C. 751, west of Old Erwin Road, Cooper said. The woman was found lying on the path by a man who notified Duke police..

The woman remained at Duke University Hospital Monday.

Cooper said Asta was stopped by Duke police as he left Duke Forest about 8 p.m. Saturday, not far from where the second attack occurred. After an appearance before a Durham magistrate Saturday night, Asta was issued a citation for simple assault in connection with the first incident and released.

Duke police are continuing to investigate whether Asta was involved in the stabbing incident, as well as in a similar incident that occurred June 19, Cooper said. In that incident, a woman told police she was jogging in the forest near the intersection of N.C. 751 and U.S. 70 around 5:35 p.m. when a man holding a pair of kitchen shears stopped her and demanded she go into the woods with him.

The woman managed to escape unharmed.

Cooper said Duke police posted fliers in the forest after the June 19 incident, warning people of the attempted attack and asking for anyone with information to contact police.

Following Saturday's attacks, additional fliers have been posted, and Duke police have stepped up patrols in the forest.

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