Portland police seek suspect in 3 West End attacks

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PORTLAND — Police are seeking a suspect they say assaulted three women in the last six weeks in the Congress Street area in the West End.

Lt. James Sweatt said Wednesday the white man is believed to be about 30 years old, between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet tall, with long blond hair and a “rugged frame.” The suspect also has at least two lip piercings and has been wearing a baseball cap and glasses during the assaults.

Sweatt said the assaults occurred near Congress Street between Neal and Weymouth streets.

In the most recent, around 11:30 p.m. May 24, a 30-year-old Portland woman said she was attacked from behind on Weymouth Street and strangled before her bra was stolen.

On April 30, around 9 p.m., a 29-year-old woman reported she was grabbed around the neck in an alley behind 169 Neal St. and robbed of cash she had hidden in her bra.

On April 24, a 26-year-old woman reported she was groped around 8 p.m. on Congress Street near Weymouth Street. She reported the assault May 27 and said she sprayed the suspect with pepper spray before he fled.

In a press conference Wednesday, Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said police are not considering the attacks sex crimes, but are concerned about the trend.

“It is difficult for us to say,” Malloch said about the motive for the attacks.

Police believe the suspect lives in or frequents the area.

“This is a very small geographic area, when you think about it,” Malloch said.

Malloch said the attacks underscored the need for vigilance, and recommended women avoid walking alone at night, or walk in well-lit areas and keep trips short. He also suggested women be engaged in cell-phone conversations while they walk.

“Be ready to run or scream,” he said.

Anyone with information about the incidents or the suspect is asked to call police at 854-8575. Tips can also be made anonymously at portland-police.com by tabbing on “Submit an Anonymous Crime Tip,” or by texting 274637 and using the keyword GOTCHA.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch briefs the media Wednesday, June 1, about the search for a suspect in three alleged attacks in the city’s West End.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.