Washburn Police continue sexual assault investigation

Jill Martin

Tuesday morning a worst-case scenario almost happened on campus.

A male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants and white shoes approached a female from behind in an unspecified threatening manner in parking lot E, north of the Living Learning Center. Fortunately, the attacker got scared and ran off toward the east, then proceeded north in front of Morgan Hall.

The attacker was last seen Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the intersection of 17th Street and Washburn Avenue. While he has not been seen since, Washburn Police have not let up on their investigation.

Since the occurrence, Washburn Police have been diligently involved in trying to find this perpetrator. There have been several details added by Washburn students and members of the community about his appearance. Dean Forster, chief of Washburn Police, has continued to encourage students to use the Washburn Police through this occurrence.

The Washburn Police have been working closely with the Topeka Police Department. There have been two officers assigned from the Topeka police force to help investigate this case. There has also been more patrolling around campus by Topeka police.

Forster said this is only the second report of this nature in five years.

“We have a safe campus,” said Forster. “However, that does not mean things cannot happen, though.”

Forster also passed along some safety advice. He advised that all students try to be in pairs at all times of the night or to at least let others know where they are, whether it be just outside or in their car. He added that students should also be aware of their surroundings at all times.

The student response since this incident has increased the concern for safety. Brady Hoffman, a student who lives off campus, thought the attack could have happened to anyone.

“This was probably not a random thing,” said Hoffman. “I bet this guy and possibly others have been stalking campus, but now they know they cannot get away with it.”

Loren Hewitt, another student who lives off campus, is glad to know that the police are doing all they can to keep campus safe.

“I am pleased at how the Washburn Police have handled this situation,” said Hewitt. “It is reassuring to know they are putting full effort toward preventing a situation like this from happening.”

However, Hewitt also indicated her fear.

“This is a scary thing,” said Hewitt. “That girl is very lucky, and what happens when luck is not on a person’s side?”

At press time there were no leads in this incident, but the Washburn Police are determined to catch the perpetrator. The timely warnings that have been issued have indicated that the suspect is a Hispanic or Black male, 5-foot-9 to 6-foot tall, 180 to 190 pounds with a stocky build. Anyone who has been in contact with or has additional information concerning an individual of this description should contact the Washburn Police at (785) 670-1153.