Matteson attack: Woman sexually assaulted near Metra station, bike path

April 24, 2014 (MATTESON, Ill.)

A sketch of a suspect has been released. It's not clear if the same man is responsible for every incident.

Matteson, Richton Park, and Park Forest issued a joint community alert after a woman was attacked on a trail right near the Matteson Metra stop Thursday morning. The 34-year-old Park Forest woman was walking on Old Plank Trail between Main Street and Homan Avenue around 5:30 a.m. when she was grabbed by a man and sexually assaulted, according to a Matteson Police Department statement.

Police say she heard the man walking behind her, then he said something to the effect of "Hey baby, come here" right before attacking her. This, and other recent incidents, has women worried.

"I've been praying for her all day," said Angela Taylor, Metra commuter.

A sketch of a suspect has been released. It's not clear if the same man is responsible for every incident.

"I'm just totally appalled because I've been coming to jog here over 10 years," said Georgi Smith, Matteson resident.

"I wasn't comfortable walking home by myself today, and that's unfortunate because I've been doing this for so long. You're kind of complacent, you kind of get comfortable, but not anymore," said Taylor.

The offender is described as a black man in his late 20s or early 30s, 5'10" tall, 180 pounds, short hair and calloused hands. He was wearing a black hooded nylon jacket with a white zipper, dark denim jeans and worn, dark gym shoes. Police issued a sketch of the offender on Thursday afternoon.

Authorities are encouraging residents who use the Old Plank Trail to do so in groups.

"Everybody is kind of tensed up because not only this sexual assault has occurred, but we have had a string of them in the last couple of months that really has everyone on alarm and alert," said Nicole Sudberry, concerned parent.

On Tuesday, a man grabbed a woman in Richton Park. Within an hour, police believed he was responsible for grabbing another woman in Park Forest. That means, in March and April, Park Forest has had 5 females targeted, mostly teenagers. Park Forest police have released a different sketch of that suspect.

In the community alert, police say it is unknown if the same man is involved in all seven attacks, but there are similarities in his description. The attacker seems to strike before school and work, and after school.

Police are offering a $500 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

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