Women in Upper Manhattan are on high alert after three sexual assaults – allegedly by three different men – happened in their precinct over the last three days.
Police believe the assaults in Inwood and Washington Heights, the latest of which occurred just a block from the 34th precinct stationhouse, are not connected.
But Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said over the weekend that authorities were not ruling out any potential links between the crimes.
“Right now we don’t see connectivity,” Kelly said. “There may be, but right now we don’t see that. Obviously that’s one of the aspects of the investigation.”
The first incident happened at about 8:40 p.m. Friday in Inwood Hill Park. Police say a man grabbed a 28-year-old woman walking near the ballfields by Dyckman Street and the Henry Hudson Parkway. He dragged her into the woods and sexually assaulted her before speeding off on a red bicycle, police said.
Authorities released a sketch of the suspect; he is described as a 5'7" to 5'9" Hispanic man about 30 to 35, weighing 170 to 180 pounds. The suspect had no shirt on at the time of the attack, but was wearing khaki shorts and a bluish adornment around his neck, police said.
Hours later and a few blocks away, police say a man pulled a knife on a 37-year-old woman as she walked into her Washington Heights apartment building at about 2:15 a.m. Saturday. The man then forced her to the eighth floor, where he sexually assaulted and robbed her, police said.
The suspect, described as a Hispanic man about 20 to 25 years old with short dark hair, was caught on surveillance video in the building, and authorities urge anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and black sweat pants and is about 5'3"-5'5".
Magnifying the neighborhood’s unease, yet another attempted assault happened early Sunday. A man walked up to a 32-year-old woman near the intersection of 184th Street and Broadway, reached under her skirt and tried to rip off her underwear. The woman managed to fight him off, and the suspect fled. There is no surveillance video in the most recent attempted assault.
Police in the Inwood neighborhood are urging everyone to have a heightened sense of vigilance – a warning prompted by a reality that has women in the area afraid to leave their homes at night.
“I don’t go out … like around 10 p.m. I go home,” said Nancy Catano, of Inwood. “Home I’m going to be safe.”
Another woman said she used to feel safe in the neighborhood. But that’s changed now.
“Not anymore … after I hear what has happened here,” said Scarlett Adanes.
No arrests have been made.