String of Break-Ins May Date to 2005

A series of similar burglaries in which a male enters the residence of a sleeping female, but does not take any property, can potentially be traced to 2005 – earlier than previously reported – according to an investigation by The Hoya.

In September, the Metropolitan Police Department issued a release describing a subset of these crimes – recent ones that also involved sexual assaults – and dated the string back to Jan. 13, 2008. MPD said that the incidents “may be related.”

“In each case, a female victim was awakened in the early morning hours by an unknown male suspect who gained entry to their residence by unknown means,” the MPD release said. “The suspect has either attempted or has sexually assaulted the victims. The suspect in many of the cases is described as a white or Hispanic male, approximately 5-foot-10 to 6-foot in height, with a medium build, wearing dark colored pants and a collared shirt.”

In total, since January 2008, there have been at least 11 reported burglaries with similarly described suspects and natures, according to MPD and Department of Public Safety reports, though not all cases were classified as sexual assaults. These crimes all occurred in West Georgetown, Burleith, and Glover Park.

But an examination of DPS Public Safety Alerts and past news articles found that crimes of a similar description occurred near campus at least 10 times during the 28 months prior to January 2008 and six times in 2007 alone, though in many of these cases the suspect left without sexually assaulting a victim. In no case was property reported taken.

DPS sent an alert to the Georgetown campus community on Sept. 19, 2005.

“On Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005, at approximately 5:30 a.m., a Georgetown University student reported to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) that an unknown person entered her home in the 3500 block of O Street, NW through an unlocked front door,” the report said. “The unknown male startled the student from her sleep when he attempted to remove her clothing. A struggle ensued and the suspect was last seen exiting the front door. . The student who reported the incident was not injured, and no property was reported missing. The suspect is described as a Latino/Hispanic male, dark complexion, in his 20s, bald, with unknown colored pants and a white T-shirt.”

This DPS alert also said that students and neighborhood residents had reported a person fitting this description as a suspect in similar incidents in West Georgetown. The suspect in those incidents also entered through an unlocked door or window between midnight and 6 a.m. The Hoya has been unable to find any records relating to incidents prior to September 2005.

The next month, DPS sent out a PSA of a similar early-morning entry in the 1600 block of 35th Street in which an “unknown male groped one of the students and committed an obscene act. The unknown male suspect exited the residence through the front door.” The suspect was described as a “Hispanic male, 5-foot-9, with medium length dark hair possibly reaching his chin, wearing a dark jacket and boots.”

On April 21, 2006, DPS alerted the community to a student’s report that day.

“. [A]n unknown person entered her residence in the 1400 block of 36th Street at approximately 6:27 a.m. The unknown male was observed standing in the living room area downstairs. Upon seeing the student, the unknown male ran outside the residence.” In that case, “[n]o further description of the suspect was provided.”

On Dec. 7, 2006, according to a PSA, “a Georgetown University student reported that at approximately 4:08 a.m. an unknown male opened the sliding glass door in the back of her Village A apartment and stuck his head inside. When the individual saw her, he fled. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, mid-to late 20s with curly hair.”

DPS reported on April 30, 2007 that, on the previous day, “a Georgetown University student reported to the Department of Public Safety that an unknown person entered her residence in the 3700 block of Reservoir Road at approximately 4:06 a.m. The unknown male was observed standing at the foot of her bed. The student began screaming at him, and the unknown male ran downstairs and out the back door of the residence.” The PSA described the suspect in this case as “a white male with olive skin, approximately 6-foot, with a close-cropped haircut.”

On Oct. 1, 2007, DPS said in a PSA, “A complainant reported that at approximately 4:15 a.m. [the day prior], she returned home and an unknown male was inside her house. The suspect asked: `Can you show me the front door and lock the door behind me?’ The suspect then left the residence.” According to DPS, “The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 5’10″ tall, weighing about 145 lbs. and wearing a dark polo shirt and dark pants.”

A week later, on Oct. 7, 2007, DPS alerted the community, “A complainant reported to DPS that at approximately 7:30 a.m. she was awakened by her roommate shouting to an unknown male inside their residence. The male ran out of the house, traveling east on R Street.” The suspect was “a Hispanic male, in his early 30s, and wearing a blue button down collared shirt.”

On Oct. 26, 2007, The Hoya reported a similar crime on O Street that occurred on Oct. 19, in which a student awoke around 4:35 a.m. to someone standing on her pillow. The student started screaming at him and the suspect ran through the living room and into the kitchen, mumbling things like “I’m getting my friend,” and “I’m looking for something,” according to the article.

According to that report, the suspect was “Hispanic and approximately 5-foot-8.” No PSA could be found for this crime.

The same story in The Hoya indicated that a similar crime had taken place at the same house approximately three weeks before, though no exact date was found. In this case, a “similar intruder,” described as a white male in the story, entered a student’s room and touched her “inappropriately.” This crime was not reported to MPD or DPS, according to the article.

The Hoya quoted DPS Associate Director Doris Bey as saying that she was not sure if there was a link among any of the burglaries.

A final crime in 2007 exhibits similar circumstances except with regard to the suspect’s clothing. On Nov. 1, 2007, DPS alerted the community to a student’s report that “at approximately 5:16 a.m. [the same day], she observed an unknown person dressed in a witch costume standing in her bedroom. When she sat up in bed, the suspect ran away.” The PSA said, “Upon arrival to the scene, DPS discovered that the patio door was broken,” and the suspect was described as “6-foot, medium build and wearing a witch costume and black face paint.”

This account of incidents from 2005 to 2007 may not be complete, as several of the incidents from 2008 noted in the September MPD release were not reported by DPS via the PSA system. In addition, some incidents, such as the one referenced in The Hoya’s October 2007 story, were reported to neither DPS nor MPD.

While the suspect is commonly referred to as “the Georgetown Cuddler,” it remains unclear whether more than one suspect was involved in these incidents, given the variations in descriptions of the suspect and of the criminal activities.

The next reported incident was a sexual assault that occurred on Jan. 13, 2008, and is listed by MPD as the first in the string of assaults. It is possible MPD did not include previous incidents because some were not officially classified as sexual assaults. DPS classified many of the crimes described above as burglaries.

DPS Sgt. Joseph Smith, crime prevention coordinator, declined to comment for this report.

“[W]e are constrained from conjecturing on the potential interrelatedness of these incidents since they are all currently under investigation,” he said.

Georgetown Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco did not return a request for comment, and MPD officials with knowledge of the incidents could not be reached.

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