Thursday, January 08, 2009

Still truckin'

I should have clarified in the last post: the scumbag was caught...on the same day! This part is actually a good story, so it's actually hard to resist telling it. Moments before I was attacked (literally, it could not have been more than 30 seconds to a minute), I passed three runners going the opposite way on the trail. Afterwards, I met them almost immediately coming back the way they had come. They immediately stopped to help before I even had to say something. It must have been pretty obvious something terrible had happened. I had tried calling Mark on my cell phone, but his phone was off. Next step was the police, but I wanted to get to the road before I did anything else, because I was afraid of the guy coming after me again. So now that I had people around, I let one of them call the police on my phone. It took us a couple of minutes to walk back to the road, and the first officer was pulling up as we arrived.

One of them was able to give a description of a man they had seen running behind me on the trail after they passed me. He was in street clothes, but this isn't necessarily unusual. A lot of people use that trail as a shortcut to get around town. It was a cold day, and he could have been running to keep warm.

So, although I never saw the guy's face, we now had a description of a person who, if not the actual guy, surely had to have seen something. He had bruises all over his face, a pretty distinguishing feature, so I felt pretty hopeful that he might be found. More officers arrived, along with a detective. They kept asking questions, but did so without making me feel badgered or threatened. I could tell they were raring to get this guy.

Eventually, they brought in a dog in an attempt to track down the guy. Meanwhile, I had started writing out my statement, figuring I should do it as soon as possible while everything was still fresh. Mark got my panicky message and came as soon as he could. I felt bad though, because everything took a while and he ended up having to go back home to get me a change of clothes. He mostly paced around the gravel trailhead parking lot. The police asked me if I would be willing to walk them back to the approximate area where I was attacked. I was starting to get really cold, and they initially offered me a coat, but then one pointed out that my clothes needed to stay uncontaminated since they would be needed as evidence (that's when Mark took off to get clean clothes).

In the meantime, I knew that the sooner they were able to the investigate, the better the chance they would find something, so I told them I would be fine to go back on the trail. Actually, walking was better, helping to keep me a little warmer. We walked back until I noticed some scuff marks on the trail. It seemed to be about in the right place, so that's where they started searching. After that, I went back, changed clothes at a nearby gas station, and continued working on my statement.

They asked me to go back one more time--they'd roped off an area but couldn't find the actual spot. It didn't sound like the dog had been successful (although it turned out she was able to lead them to within a block of the guy's house). I looked around the area, using the few clues I could remember (a certain tree, a section of wire fence, a clump of sticker bushes), but everything back there just looks the same. It was starting to get dark, so we headed back and I finished my statement.

Mark and I started back home, but then I got a call from the detective. She wanted to interview me and ask some more questions, and gave me the choice of doing it that night, or waiting until the next day. I chose to get it done that night. So we turned around and headed back downtown to the police station, where I talked to the detective for some time. Afterwards, she suggested going to the hospital to see if they could gather any evidence. She offered to go with us and take us in through the back door so we wouldn't have to deal with anyone. I felt a little weird about going to the front desk by myself, so I took her up on that offer.

A few moments after we got there, we were standing at the check-in counter waiting for a room assignment when the detective very casually asked me to move down the hallway a little ways. She followed and said she had seen a man fitting their description and was going to check it out. They put me into a room at that point. During the exam, the detective and other officers came and went, asking questions and keeping me updated. Eventually I found out that they were all but sure they would be arresting this guy. The detective said he would have to come up with a pretty good story to explain himself. He had at least one prior conviction for a similar crime. So the guy had been at the hospital at just the right time (I think because of his facial injuries from an unrelated incident), in an exam room literally feet away from where we happened to be.

So with some luck and some very competent work by the police, the guy is in jail, being held on a $250,000 bond. I'm very grateful that the people working on my case have done such a good job.

It turns out the runner who gave the description is a friend of a friend, so I was able to thank her again in person as well. Without her description, he might still be out there. And I certainly wouldn't be sleeping as well as I am now.
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