2 men wanted for questioning in attack on woman on New Lenox trail

NEW LENOX, Ill. (WLS) -- Two men are wanted for questioning in an attack on a woman on the Old Plank Road Trail in southwest suburban New Lenox.

The Forest Preserve of Will County Police Department released a photo Friday from a security camera at a business in nearby Frankfort. They asked for the public's help to identify the two men in the photo.

After the photo was released, tips started to pour in. By Friday afternoon, the police chief said they were close to making an arrest.

"We're getting some information and we're really getting close to an arrest," said Chief Tracy Chapman of the Forest Preserve of Will County Police Department.

At around 6:15 p.m. on Sunday 21-year-old Stacey Pritchard was walking with her dog when she was approached by the two men near the entrance to a path that connects the trail to the Hickory Creek Bikeway, east of Schoolhouse Road, police said.

In a Facebook post, she wrote that one of the men walked up next to her and started to keep pace with her. He told her how attractive she was and asked for her number.

When she brushed him off, he said he deserved a hug for his trouble and then grabbed her arm. The post said he demanded a kiss and then grabbed her by the waist. Police said she managed to push him away, and the men left, heading west.

"When I told him I didn't want to give him my number or anything like that, I pushed his arm away, and me and my dog ran away," said Pritchard.

She wrote the men were scared away by her dog, who growled at them, and a few people on bikes who were passing through. She credited her self-defense classes for her safe escape.

"When he grabbed me around the waist, she growled at him. That's how we got away. She wasn't as friendly as she seemed to be as he approached me," said Pritchard.

She posted a picture on Facebook of what she carries with her when she goes on walks, including a knife and mace, but wrote that she wasn't able to get to them in time.

"Now I attached the pepper spray to the leash so I have a chance to grab it next time," said Pritchard.

"It's absolutely sad that you have to watch out every day. It's sad," said Marianne Murlasits, a cyclist.

"You can't just stop doing what you like doing because of one incident or something. But overall, I think the trail is a great trail," said Tim Granger, another cyclist.

Another woman told forest preserve police that she was also approached by two men matching the suspects' description near South 116th Avenue and Old Plank Road Trail, about an hour earlier. The suspects didn't grab her, but apparently said the same type of things to her.

Police beefed up patrols on the trail and asked anyone who has information on who the men are or where they might be to call 815-722-5473.

"We're utilizing our bicycles and our ATVs, as well as guys walking and driving the trails," said Chief Tracy Chapman, Forest Preserve of Will County Police Department. "Looking out for these guys and also making contact with other trail users that might have been here this weekend that could have seen them or seen a good direction of travel, stuff like that."
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