Leads on stalking incidents reported

November 26, 2003|GARY MOYERS

Since releasing information about a man who exposed himself to a young girl at Wal-Mart last week, Danville police have received several phone calls offering possible leads.

But, as Chief Jeff Peek points out, there have been no additional incidents, leading him to believe his release of the information to the public was productive.

"I do not want a child to be assaulted or injured in any way when the parents could have prevented the incident had they been armed with information," said Peek. "We don't want to cause some kind of panic when we do this, but we do feel parents need to be alert, as they should always be alert."

Assistant Chief Jay Newell said police are checking each lead brought to their attention, but so far, none have resulted in charges.


"We've received several phone calls and reports from people believing they may have seen the truck that some witnesses have described, but there's been no verifiable evidence yet," said Newell. "What we have from witness descriptions and from the video is a very generic description that, unfortunately, applies to a lot of vehicles."

The video is from a security camera at Wal-Mart showing a suspect who allegedly exposed himself to a young girl Nov. 18 running from the store. Newell said the video is grainy, however, and gives only the vaguest of looks at the suspect.

"That video helps, but it doesn't give a definitive identification," he said.

The incident at Wal-Mart came on the heels of reports of a man attempting to persuade young children to leave with him near Toliver Elementary School and on High Street, and Peek said he's still not convinced the incidents are related, nor is he sure there is a "serial stalker" roaming loose.

"We have to consider the possibility that they are linked, just as we have to consider the possibility they are not linked," he said. "We have the witness description of the pickup in the Wal-Mart incident and possibly the High Street incident, but there was no positive link to a pickup in the incidents near the school."

Peek said most of the tips from the public have been related to the pickup, described as a light-colored, possibly yellow and tan, small truck with a light-colored camper on the back. The description also reports the truck might be a Toyota.

"That information came from our witness statements, but none of them are clear enough that we can positively say what color the truck is, or what make and model," said Newell.

The suspect in the Wal-Mart video is described as a white male with light-colored, receding hair, possibly a mustache, and probably in his 30s.

"Again, it's a very general description," said Newell. "There's not a lot there we can use to identify someone, but it helps us possibly eliminate a suspect."

Peek said he did not wish to cause a panic in the community with reports of child molesters, but he said his job is to prevent crime as much as to solve a case.

"We want everyone to be wary, of course, as they should all the time," he said. "We felt it was important to alert people to the incidents so they could keep their guard up, and be alert, and act as eyes for our officers in case something else happens.

"There will be many vehicles that match the description we've released, and there will be many people who match the description," he said. "We will see people we don't know in and around schools and playgrounds, because we don't know everyone. We as parents have to stay alert, protect our children; but we should do that every day, not just when something has happened."

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