Suspect wanted in abduction, sex assault

PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. The victim was later released and returned home following the attack.

The teenager is now working with police to come up with a description of her attacker. She was abducted from the sandwich shop located at 12250 S. Harlem in south suburban Palos Heights.

Police say their initial discussion with the 17-year-old high school senior found her very upset, so they interviewed her again Wednesday to try to get a better description of the suspect, who is at large. Police say he is a man in his 40s of Indian or Arabic descent.

On Wednesday afternoon, patrons of stores in the strip mall had Tuesday night's incident on their minds -- the apparent abduction and sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl who was working alone in a sandwich shop.

"It's just tragic to think that just because it was 9 o'clock that the woman was attacked," said Margery St. Aubin, customer.

Investigators say the girl was the only person working at T.J. Grinders Tuesday evening when she noticed a man in the store who made her uneasy. They say around 6 p.m. she alerted a male friend with a text message, and then called him before 9 p.m., telling him the man was back staring at her through the window. Investigators say the girl's friend rushed to T.J. Grinders only to find her gone and her purse on the ground. Police say the suspect forced her into a car, drove away and sexually assaulted her before releasing her more than three hours later.

Most of the other businesses in the strip mall are owned by women who were stunned by the news.

"I think we live in a world today where we all have to be aware, we all have to practice safety. It's not like it was years ago," said Camille Krecioch, store owner.

"Every time we hire new people, you reiterate to them what precautions you want them to take," said Cathy Baumann, store owner.

The owners of T.J. Grinders released a statement saying: "The owners of T.J. Grinders Inc. wish to express their deepest concern for the victim and her family. They also want to express that they will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities in their investigation of this matter in the hope that the perpetrator will be apprehended and brought to justice."

T.J. Grinders would not comment publicly any further, but they reportedly told police there normally would have been another person working in the store with her. However, there is no answer as to how she ended up in the store by herself.

The police issued reverse 911 code red calls Wednesday to Palos Heights residents asking anyone with information about this incident to please give them a call.

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