By Ryan S. Clark
EAST LANSING -— They still go out, but not as much as they used to.
And when they do go out, it’s always in a group of at least two people.
When they are at home, doors are always locked — day or night.
Welcome to the lives of Danielle Crossley, Emma Moyer and their seven roommates.
They’re all college-age women living in East Lansing, a town they have typically felt comfortable in.
Just not lately. And chances are, they’re not alone.
Since April, there have been two sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault in East Lansing. All three victims were Michigan State University students. All were women. No arrests have been made, police said Wednesday.
Until an arrest is made, young women like Crossley and Moyer worry they could be the next victims.
“We have been noticing a lot more police,” said Crossley, a 21-year-old senior from Detroit. “There has been more of a presence. But we were saying that they drive by but they don’t sit there long enough.”
Police have been looking for the suspect since April 20, when the first incident occurred around midnight on Coolidge Road south of Lake Lansing Road. The victim was dragged to a secluded area where she was physically and sexually assaulted.
A second assault occurred the early morning of April 26 in the 300 block of Charles Street.
Police said a woman was attempting to enter her home when she was dragged to a secluded area where she was physically assaulted and a sexual assault attempt was made.
The most recent incident happened May 16 in the parking lot of the Abbott Pointe Apartments near Abbot Road. At about 8 p.m., the suspect dragged a woman behind a large trash bin then physically and sexually assaulted her before fleeing on foot.
“We are still of the opinion that they’ve been committed by the same suspect,” said East Lansing police Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth.
Police released a composite sketch of the suspect May 29.
The suspect has been described as a white male with an average build, between 5 feet 5 inches tall and 5 feet 10 inches tall.
He’s believed to be 18-25 years old.
Wriggelsworth said the composite has led to about 30 tips.
Investigators have checked out most of them and are still working on others.
“Again, it is a likeness and not an exact picture,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of tips from people saying it looks like this guy or that guy.”
Capt. Jeff Murphy said “a lot of evidence” has been collected but declined to discuss specifics. He said the only physical link police have found between the victims is they are MSU students.
But they also were in surroundings that were not well-lit and largely isolated.
“The first thing we’ve been telling people is to be aware of your surroundings,” Murphy said. “We can all fall into the trap of being complacent ... we want the public to know stuff is going on so they can be vigilant.”
Moyer, 21, said the first assault incident got her attention but the second one made her realize these are not isolated incidents.
“We were at a party and we realized there we needed to be safe,” she said. “That’s something you usually don’t talk about in social settings. I think that is when it really hit home. We need to be smart about this. Even though where we are going might be a block away, you never know.”
Carla Cantu, the director of marketing for DTN Management, which owns Abbott Pointe Apartments, said the company has been working closely with police.
Emails and text messages have been sent to residents letting them know a sexual assault suspect is on the streets. Cantu said the company has more than 40 properties spread throughout East Lansing.
When asked about security, Cantu said there are resident managers and staff on all properties available for tenants to call at all times.
But as for on-site security she said, “We have them at some of our properties, but not all of them.”
Murphy said the best thing women can do is pay attention to their surroundings.
“If you see something suspicious, call the police,” he said. “If you hear something suspicious, call the police. You’re not going to hear from our officers you are wasting their time. When it comes to catching someone like this, it’s usually someone from the public who calls in a tip.”
News | June 6, 2013 | Page 1A, 2A
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