A 40-year-old woman was raped after being kidnapped from a parking lot of the area's largest mall late Thursday night, leaving some women concerned for their safety during this busy holiday season.
The victim parked near the Toys R Us next to Westfield Franklin Park and was walking toward Dillard's when a large, dark van pulled in front of her about 9 p.m., said Toledo police Sgt. George Kral.
The suspect, who was described as a white male wearing a ski mask, forced the woman into the vehicle and drove her to an unknown location, where he physically and sexually assaulted her. He then drove her back to the mall about 30 minutes after the kidnapping, and then sped away, Sergeant Kral said.
The woman was treated at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center for bruises, cuts, and scrapes.
The assault was similar to the abduction and rape of a woman Oct. 13, 2003, also at Westfield.
A then-41-year-old woman was abducted from a mall parking lot about 9 p.m., driven to a nearby gas station, and raped. She then was taken to a secluded area near City Park Avenue and the Anthony Wayne Trail, was sexually assaulted again, and robbed about 11:30 p.m. before her assailant, Lamond Johnson, then 17, fled from the car.
He was caught two days later; convicted in May, 2004, and sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to 14 years in prison for rape, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery.
A mall official could not be reached for comment last night.
Thursday's incident rattled a few holiday shoppers, including Marlene Chio, 54, of Petersburg, Mich., who said she thought the number of bustling holiday shoppers and potential witnesses would deter an abduction.
But Lisa Hoffmann, 45, of
Toledo said she thought busy shoppers might not be as cautious when it comes to their own safety.
"This is not an isolated incident," she said. "You hear about those things happening, and you have to be on guard, unfortunately."
Anna Giles, 17, of Elmore said she was planning to be more cautious when she leaves her job at American Eagle well after the 10 p.m. closing time to go home.
"When you leave later at night, it kinda freaks you out," she said. "But you don't think anything's going to happen - you're just going straight to the car."
Sergeant Kral said that his best advice for safety while shopping after nightfall is to be aware of the surroundings, park in a lighted area, shop with a friend or a relative, and stay around as many people as possible.
"There's safety in numbers," the Sergeant Kral said. "The more people around, the better."
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