Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Gaithersburg woman raped in woods

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County police detectives are searching for a man who dragged a 29-year-old Gaithersburg woman into the woods near Washington Grove on Tuesday night and raped her.

Montgomery County Police 6th District officers and K-9 units responded at about 9:40 p.m. to the 17800 block of Washington Grove Lane near Emory Grove Road and Midcounty Highway, according to police.

The woman was walking on the sidewalk close to Johnson Park and near the Upper County Pool, said Lt. Paul Starks, county police spokesman. She immediately called police.

K-9 units, officers and Maryland State Police helicopters searched, but did not find the suspect, police said.

The woman described her attacker as a black man, about 40 years old, who was 6-feet to 6-feet-3-inches tall, with a medium build. He wore a black shirt and black shorts and had a crew-cut, she told police.

Starks said it was too early in the investigation to establish a link between Tuesday's attack and a July 30 assault at the same location.

Police responded to the 17800 block of Washington Grove Lane at 5:30 a.m. on July 30 for an alleged sexual assault after a man, described as a 6-foot-tall black male, about 40 years old with short hair and weighing 180-200 pounds, approached a female victim in her car, asked her questions, then began kissing her when she opened her car door. He fled the scene.

"What we do want to let people know is that it's nearing the end of August, it's getting darker sooner, so know your time frame for walking," Starks said Wednesday. "Carry a cell phone…let someone else know where you're going, whether you live alone or not, and do things to be aware of your surroundings. You may want to drive the route first."

Music devices can be distracting and render people unaware of their surroundings, he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the county police's Homicide/Sex Crimes Investigative Unit at 240-773-5070. Callers may remain anonymous.