Fairfax County police are investigating three sexual assaults that took place over two days in both the northern and southern parts of the county.
On Tuesday in Reston, a 31-year-old woman reported to police that she was attacked while walking along the Washington & Old Dominion trail around 7 p.m.
The woman was on the trail near the overpass for Herndon Parkway, near the Town of Herndon Police department, when she noticed a man following her, police said. She continued walking to Sunset Hills Road, where the woman said she was then dragged off the path into a wooded area by the man.
She struggled with her attacker and he eventually fled north onto a gravel horse trail, police said. The woman did not require medical attention, police said.
Police describe him as heavyset, about 25 years old, clean shaven and with short, black hair. They said the woman was unsure of his height and ethnicity but that he was wearing glasses, a dark jacket and dark jeans.
County police are also investigating two assaults that took place within 25 minutes of each other the following day in Springfield. They said those two incidents occurred at 3:10 and 3:35 p.m.
While it is unknown whether the Springfield cases are linked to each other, detectives are looking at the possibility that they could be the sixteenth and seventeenth assaults in a series of similar incidents that have occurred in that area over the last several months, police said. In those cases, police have been on the lookout for a ‘serial groper’ that has been described by several victims as a hispanic man, 5 feet 6 inches tall, often wearing a red baseball cap. “Besides the red baseball cap, there are other similarities,including the fact that many of the incidents took place during daylight hours,” said police spokesperson Lucy Caldwell.
In the first Springfield incident on Wednesday, police said a 30-year-old woman was walking south on Dinwiddie Street near Dana Avenue. She reported that someone approached from behind her, grabbed and groped her, then fled.
The man was described as Hispanic, around 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a neatly trimmed beard. He wore a sweatshirt.
The second incident took place a few blocks away, on Backlick Road near the intersection of Cabin John Road. In that incident, police said a 25-year-old woman was walking south on Backlick Road, underneath the I-495 underpass, when she felt someone groping her. She yelled and the man fled. The man on that case was also described as Hispanic, around 5 feet 6 inches tall with a black jacket and blue jeans.
Police said they do not think the Springfield assaults are related to the Reston assault.
“The Reston suspect was described as much heavier set,” said police spokesman Don Gotthardt.
Police are urging anyone planning to walk along secluded trails to consider walking with a friend, not to wear earbuds or earphones, be aware of their surroundings and to always tell someone where they will be before leaving.