Late last month, we updated you on a series of attacks on Fort Collins women, with eight of nine thought to have been committed by the same suspect. Now, Kelli Middleton has come forward with the story of her own attack, and she's said to be convinced that the man who injured and robbed her is the same person wanted for most of the previous crimes -- although the cops aren't ready to quite that far yet. Continue for photos, a video and additional details.
As we reported on October 10, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office announced that seven assaults had been tied to a single suspect. However, the Fort Collins Coloradoan subsequently revealed that a September incident on the Colorado State University campus that was originally included was no longer thought to be connected to that individual.
Then came two more. At 10:30 p.m. on Friday, October 24, Fort Collins cops responded to the 3000 block of West Elizabeth Street, an area captured in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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There, officers encountered a woman who said she'd been assaulted by a single male suspect while jogging.
Cut to 10:50 p.m. that same night, when the FCPD got another related call -- this one telling of a physical assault by a man on a woman who'd been walking near the intersection of City Park Avenue and Baystone Drive. Here's an interactive graphic depicting that area:
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In each case, the description of the perpetrator was similar to those offered after the previous six attacks: a Hispanic male in the thirty-to-forty-years range, standing between five-seven and six-feet tall, with a medium-to-heavy build and short, shaved hair, possibly driving an older-model white SUV.
Fortunately, neither of the women in the Friday attacks was seriously hurt, and the same goes for Middleton -- although she was extremely fortunate, given that her attacker was armed with a blade.
At 7:26 a.m. on Monday, November 17, according to the Fort Collins Police Department, officers were dispatched to an apartment on the 2200 block of Orchard Place. There, a woman subsequently identified as Middleton said she'd been walking her dog when she was confronted by a male suspect. She tells 7News that the man kicked the dog, punched her in the face near some dumpsters and then slashed at her with what she thinks was a box cutter.
Here's a look at Middleton pointing out facial bruising....
Continue for more about the attack on Kelli Middleton, including additional photos and a video, followed by our previous coverage of the Fort Collins assaults. ....and here's a shot showing a cut to her stomach: The man then demanded her purse and managed to wrench it away from her following a brief struggle, after which he ran from the area, the police note.
Middleton was transported from the scene for her injuries. Meanwhile, she described her attacker as follows: "a Hispanic male who is approximately 5' 7" in height with a stocky build, black hair, and brown eyes." The FCPD adds that "the suspect was reported to be wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and brown or green sweat pants."
Afterward, Middleton posted this on her Facebook page:
Everyone take some extra precaution over these next few days. Lock your doors and carry pepper spray. I know people say this all the time, but you never think it will happen to you.... And then next thing you know, you're girl #9. I'm safe and sound at home now, and in good hands (Jesse 's.) I'll post the sketch of his face as soon as it is released. Share it to spread awareness please!
This mention of the sketch is key. Rather than simply re-releasing the sketch of the previous suspect (it's on view below), a police artist is working on a new one based on Middleton's information, 7News states. And indeed, the department's release does not specifically link what happened to Middleton to the earlier incident, perhaps because a weapon and robbery weren't part of the previous incidents.
Meanwhile, Middleton seems to have bounced back from her dangerous encounter very well, even posting this photo....
...prior to the airing of her 7News interview.
Nonetheless, she's serious about her warnings to other Fort Collins women. She tells the station, "I don't want anyone to go through what I had to go through today, because it was a rough day."
Continue for the 7News piece, followed by our previous coverage.
Continue for our previous coverage of the Fort Collins-area assaults, including the full-size sketch of the suspect in eight of the incidents. Original post, 5:15 a.m. October 10: Has Fort Collins become the chosen crime zone for a serial assaulter of women? That's the supposition of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, which ties a Wednesday night attack with six others in recent weeks. Details, a larger version of the sketch seen here and more below.
The LCSO doesn't pinpoint the location of the latest incident in an alert. Rather, the offense is simply said to have taken place "along the Highway 1 corridor just north of Fort Collins."
Type "Highway 1" and "Fort Collins" into the Google Maps search field and this is what you get. (If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map.")
View Larger Map
Neither does the LCSO offer a specific time for what took place. The office simply notes that on Wednesday evening, a woman riding her bicycle was physically assaulted by a man unknown to her.
She describes him as a Hispanic male in his thirties with a stocky-to-muscular build, either a shaved head or very short hair, a mustache and a soul patch. He subsequently fled in an older model white or light-colored SUV with faded wood-grain paneling or two-tone paint on its sides.
This crime is troubling in and of itself. But it becomes even more concerning in the context of previous events. The sheriff's office notes that investigators believe the attacks is related to six previous assaults on Fort Collins women over a six-week period.
The commonalities: In each case, the victim was alone and outside between the hours of 7 p.m. and midnight.
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Those who recognize the person depicted in the following sketch are encouraged to contact Investigator Ben Hess at 970-498-5173 or Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868. In the meantime, law enforcers suggest that anyone who is out and about in the evenings try not to travel solo and to remain aware of the immediate surroundings.
Here's a larger look at the suspect likeness.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.