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Published: Tuesday, 9/9/2008

4 attacks have Tiffin residents watchful

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TIFFIN - The assault of a Tiffin woman yesterday by a masked man who broke into her home has put city police, local colleges, and city residents on high alert this week.

Yesterday's attack was the fourth fitting a pattern over the last few weeks, and Tiffin police Chief David A. LaGrange said the perpetrator in each case could be the same man. "[The suspect's description] is generally similar," the chief said.

"A little bit of healthy concern is certainly advisable because we have someone out there who is a problem. We don't want people to panic, but if this fellow that's out there causes people to be more cautious, then that's certainly a good thing," he said.

Yesterday's attack occurred in the area of South Sandusky and West Market streets, where a 33-year-old woman called police at 10:20 a.m. after the man broke into her home. She described him as "tall, stocky, and dressed in black," adding that he wore a ski mask and gloves.

The woman had just showered and dressed when she discovered the attacker standing in the dining room, where he forced her to the floor and ripped her shirt, authorities said. She fought him off long enough to grab her cell phone and call 911 while the man ran out the back door.

"We had people out and about in the area, but we couldn't find anybody that saw him today," Chief LaGrange said. "We're hitting every source we've got trying to identify the suspect. We've stepped up patrol in the area. We've talked with the colleges so they understand what's going on. We're just asking the community to keep their eyes open for us because somebody has seen something."

The attack yesterday was the third in recent weeks to happen near Tiffin University and Heidelberg College, where administrators sent e-mails to students, faculty, and staff yesterday, advising them to walk in groups and be cautious.

"There's a sense of concern among the community in general," Lisa Williams, a spokesman at Tiffin University, said. "It's just a continued diligent reminder to students that this person's out there in the community and to stay safe."

On Aug. 28, a Tiffin University student told police she was attacked by a man near the intersection of Wentz and Scott streets, a few blocks from the school's main campus.

The attacker ran up behind her and shoved her to the ground, but she kicked him, got back to her feet and ran toward campus.

He followed, but as she came closer to the campus, she lost sight of him, she told police.

She described him as 5 feet, 11 inches or taller, and said he was possibly a Hispanic man, 30-40 years old, who had a "beer belly."

She said he had short, possibly crew-cut hair, a goatee with no mustache, and a vertical tattoo along the outside of his right arm that said "Legend."

He wore a white T-shirt with cut-off sleeves, blue jeans, and work boots.

"Of the reported attacks, this was the best description given," Chief LaGrange said. "After this attack, we told the media about the tattoo. Today the suspect wore all black and a ski mask which leads us to believe he's been reading the newspaper."

On Sept. 1, a woman told police she was raped by a man who crawled in her duplex window in the area of Frost Parkway and West Market Street in Tiffin.

"She said that he told her that if she said anything that he would kill everyone in the house," Tiffin Police Officer Scott McDole wrote in his report, adding that the attacker did not have a weapon.

The victim described her attacker as Hispanic, 5 feet, 8 inches to 6 feet with dark hair, weighing 215 to 220 pounds.

He wore a black shirt with white lettering, khaki-colored shorts, white tennis shoes, and a baseball cap.

Another incident occurred Aug. 18, several miles from the vicinity of the last three attacks.

A 33-year-old woman told police on Aug. 21 she was raped about 11 p.m. by a man she described as "tall and strong," who had "tanned colored hands," although she didn't see his face.

She said the rape occurred behind the amphitheater in Hedges Boyer Park, 491 Coe St., in Tiffin.

She was walking to her car when she was pushed from behind by the man, who forced her behind the amphitheater, where he raped her.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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