Wasatch Front investigators are searching for a possible serial criminal suspected in at least 11 cases of sex-related assaults, one of them at knifepoint.
The man is described as between 30 and 35 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a medium or stocky build, weighing 180 to 200 pounds. He has light brown hair, blue eyes and a moustache. In all cases, he drives a late model gray or black sports utility vehicle, possibly a Chevrolet Blazer or Ford Explorer.The man approaches his victims, women ranging in age from 15 to 38, as they jog or walk along city streets or canyon trails. Often, they're in the company of others, the attack is in daylight - from 6 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. - and there are sometimes other witnesses nearby.
Police have their own theories about why the man takes such risks. One detective says he wants to get caught, or that having witnesses purposely prevents him from taking the assault one step further.
"I think what's concerning us is the attacks are progressively more aggressive," Murray Police Lt. Pete Fondaco said. "He started out just touching. (In one of the latest incidents,) he actually used a weapon, a knife, and assaulted her that way.
"The approach is normal, in conversation," Fondaco said. "He asks for directions. It's more or less just `break the ice' conversations. And then during the assault, there is very little communication."
The first contact was May 31 in Ogden. A second assault occurred in Salt Lake City two days later. In Weber County, a similar incident was reported June 8.
Two weeks later, a 15-year-old girl got off the bus in Murray near 6200 South and 700 West and was approached. The suspect called the girl over to his vehicle, where he was fondling himself. The girl fled.
The next day, June 20, a 36-year-old woman was jogging in Murray near 5800 S. Riverside Dr. (1150 West) when a man cut her off in his vehicle and asked for directions. He then grabbed the woman's breast and attempted to pull her into the car.
She was jogging with a friend at the time and the other person yanked her from the man's grasp. At least two other people were also nearby.
The following day, a woman was assaulted in Cache County. She suffered bruises to her neck.
"I believe he was probably trying to strangle her or snap her neck," Fondaco said.
A later attack, on July 10 in Salt Lake County, included a man touching the female victim, holding her at knifepoint and forcing her to disrobe.
In recent days, four more women have come forward after seeing a composite drawing of the suspect. In some cases, the women feared they were potential victims - a vehicle and driver matching the suspect's description drove by them several times - but they didn't actually have contact with the man.
The latest reports span the same time period as the others but now include communities as far south as Lehi and Provo. Police feel confident it is the same man.
"He's a little more active than we thought," Fondaco said.
At least two more reports were under investigation Friday. Police logged more than 70 calls as a result of circulating the composite drawing.
"A lot of them are people calling saying, `I think I know the suspect, his name is . . . ' " Fondaco said. "Hopefully our suspect is in that list."
To report information about the attacks or a possible suspect, contact Murray detectives at 264-CLUE or 264-2674.
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