OAKDALE -- It has been more than 13 years since the city's police investigated a brazen sexual attack on a woman by a stranger, but a 16-year-old girl reported this week that she was abducted and raped while walking home from summer school.
The alleged victim was alone Wednesday when she said she was approached from behind by her attacker in the 600 block of West J Street.
The assailant, described only as a man in his 40s, threatened her with a knife, blindfolded her and forced her into his pickup, according to Police Chief Lester Jenkins.
He then drove for about 20 minutes into the country, forced her to take her clothes off and raped her, Jenkins said. He dropped her off in the same location from which he had abducted her, Jenkins said, threatening to kill her if she told anyone.
The girl couldn't see her attacker but said he was slender with big hands. She described the truck as an older black pickup with paint missing on the hood and damage to the passenger side.
The girl didn't report the rape to police for nearly 12 hours, but Jenkins said that isn't unusual. He said rape victims are often in shock or, as in this case, scared because of threats from the attacker.
Fear man's done it before
"If it occurred just the way she said it did, then this person has done this before and he will do it again if he doesn't get stopped," Jenkins said. "That is one of our real concerns."
The teen spent about five hours at the hospital Wednesday. Police interviewed her again Thursday and combed the neighborhood for potential witnesses.
News of the incident spread quickly Thursday at the high school.
"I feel scared," said 15-year-old Bridget Wallimann. "I never thought something like this would happen in Oakdale. You'd expect it anywhere else but not here."
That was the general consensus among the teenage girls waiting for parents to arrive when summer school let out. While all of them perceive Oakdale as a safe place to live, most said they don't walk around town by themselves.
Attacks 13 years ago
Jenkins said the last time a stranger attacked women at random with the intent to sexually assault them was more than 13 years ago, but that man was caught before he was able to abduct any of his victims.
Rape committed at random by a stranger is rare, Jenkins said. The types of sexual assaults reported to his agency most often involve drugs and alcohol.
The reporting parties often can't remember what happened, which leaves holes in an investigation that can make an arrest and prosecution impossible.
"We have nothing at this time to cause us to believe that this is not legitimate," Jenkins said.
Bridget, the 15-year-old, said she likely will stop walking to her friend's house alone, which she sometimes does after school.
Jenkins endorsed that precaution, particularly for girls her age, until this situation is resolved.
He said they should walk in groups, carry self-defense spray and generally be more aware of their surroundings.
The latter isn't foreign to Bridget, who said, "I go hunting, so I have to be aware of my surroundings."
Anyone with information regarding this case should contact Detective Brian Shimmel at (209) 847-2231.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366.