After the string of sexual assaults in Ann Arbor this summer, police are still on the hunt for one or more perpetrators.
Six assaults — four of which were sexual assaults including two rapes — occurred in parking garages and on streets near campus throughout July. The incidents drew national media attention, and the Ann Arbor Police Department called upon the FBI for assistance in the investigation. However, since July there have not been any assaults with suspects that match the descriptions of the suspect(s) in July.
Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones said in a talk with The Michigan Daily on Friday that despite the time lapse, the department is continuing to do all it can — including working with other police forces — to find the assailant(s).
“The general assumption for some people is, ‘He’s no longer (in Ann Arbor),’” Jones said. “We can’t assume that … I want him to still be here because then we can catch him.”
The first sexual assault on July 15, in which the survivor escaped, occurred near Community High School on Division Street. A second assault occurred a few hours later on July 16 at about 2 a.m. on Greenwood Avenue.
Another assault, in which a woman was fondled, occurred on July 26 on the 700 block of State Street. There was an additional assault on Aug. 18, though the suspect’s description is different from that of the suspect(s) of the sexual assaults in July. Police are looking for a black male in his 50s in connection to the August assault.
As students return to campus for the start of fall semester, the AAPD and the University’s Department of Public Safety have increased patrols on and around campus.
DPS Executive Director Greg O’Dell said at a press conference last month that DPS officers would be making their presence more known on campus.
“I’m a very big believer in actively patrolling on foot, getting the officers out of the cars … That’s something I want to integrate throughout the department,” O’Dell said at the press conference.
O’Dell, who was named DPS executive director last month is a former chief of police at Eastern Michigan University, said he implemented a program at EMU that required officers to spend at least one hour of their eight-hour shift out of their cars. He added that DPS and AAPD are working closely to ensure student safety.
“I actually have officers who are assigned now from the University of Michigan to the Ann Arbor Police Department,” he said.
The AAPD has also rearranged officers’ schedules to ensure that there are more uniformed officers on the street, Jones said. Additionally, the AAPD has received more than 600 tips from across the country regarding the identity of the attacker.
Jones attributed the large number of tips to the distribution of two composite images of the assailant(s). Two images were released because the survivors gave varying descriptions of their attacker(s).
“We’re following up on every tip because if I can impress one thing on your mind today, we want him,” Jones said. “We all want this person because he’s taken away the personal security of the people in our community.”
University and police officials have encouraged students to remain vigilant and to take caution, especially at night since all of the assaults have occurred between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Last Friday, Jones and O’Dell joined Holly Rider-Milkovich, the director of the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones and student campus leaders as they went door-to-door in off-campus student neighborhoods to raise awareness about safety.