Walking alone on the residential streets of Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood had never felt dangerous — not even slightly — to a woman who works at a local bar.
But that changed when she was sexually assaulted around 1:20 a.m. Sunday while walking on the 4700 block of Thackeray Place Northeast in Wallingford. Luckily, she fought her assailant off, and he ran away.
“It’s so rattling — it shakes you up. It sucks that someone has the power to take away your sense of safety like that,” said the woman. The Seattle Times generally does not name the victims of sexual assault.
She and three other women, all in their 30s or 40s, have been assaulted in North Seattle since Friday. Seattle Police Department detectives are trying to determine whether the attacks are linked.
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In three of the assaults, in Northgate, Wallingford and Green Lake, the description of the suspect is similar: white male, 20 to 30, between 5-foot-7 and 6 feet, 140 to 160 pounds, with short brown hair.
A victim who was dragged into bushes and sexually assaulted in Northgate on Friday evening gave a detailed enough description of a white male attacker for police to create a sketch of him that was released Tuesday. She told police her attacker had sunken, light-blue eyes, a tattoo under his left forearm and a gravelly voice.
Another victim of a similar-looking attacker was jogging around Green Lake around 6:30 a.m. Monday. As she was being pulled into bushes, a bicyclist helped stop the attack and tried to chase the assailant down. To get a better description of the attacker, police want to know who the cyclist is so they can interview him. Police are asking him to call the police department’s sexual-assault unit at 206-684-5575.
While working as a bartender Tuesday night, the woman who was attacked Sunday said she saw the latest suspect sketch on the news but did not immediately recognize him. It was dark when she was attacked, and she was more focused on fighting the man off than getting a good look at him, she said. Still, it’s possible the man in the sketch is the same person who attacked her, she said.
In a fourth attack Sunday night in Greenwood, police say a woman was almost abducted by two men who drove up next to her. One man in a black ski mask tried to shove her into a white van with “XYF” or “ZXF” spray-painted on one side in red, she told police. When she broke free, the men sped off.
Whether suspects in all the assaults are found or not, the woman attacked in Wallingford on Sunday morning said, she, her friends and anyone who comes into the bar where she works aren’t taking chances anymore. They’ll walk in groups, drive or take a cab after dark.
Police recommend that people try not to be distracted by personal electronics if they do find themselves alone in a situation where they might be vulnerable.
Anyone with information about possible suspects is asked to call 911.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.