PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit is investigating two separate sex assaults they say happened on back-to-back days. Police say both victims were teenage girls who had just gotten off SEPTA trains on their way to school when they were attacked.
During a press conference Friday, Philadelphia Police Captain James Kearney explained that the first attack happened on Thursday morning around 8 a.m.
Captain Kearney says the victim, a 15-year-old girl, was on the subway when a male suspect tried to strike up a conversation with her. When she got off at the 8th Street stop on the Broad Ridge Spur, investigators say he followed the victim.
At that time, Kearney says the suspect attempted to sexually assault her under a staircase. He was unsuccessful and followed her to the street. Once on the street, Kearney says the suspect was able to force her into an apartment in the area where he sexually assaulted her.
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Police are searching for a man in his early 20s who is about 5-feet-8-inches tall with a slim build, braided hair and a beard. He was last seen wearing a blue Nike hooded sweatshirt with blue distressed jeans and white sneakers.
Police are also investigating a second incident that occurred around 8 a.m. Friday morning. Captain Kearney says the 13-year-old victim had exited the subway station at Broad and Race streets when she was approached on the street by a male suspect.
Kearney says the suspect told the victim that he had a gun and forced her into a parking garage stairway on Cherry Street where he sexually assaulted her.
After the assault, police say the suspect proceeded to walk with the victim towards her school, and police were able to recover surveillance images of him. Early Friday afternoon,authorities reported that a person of interest had been into custody in connection with the Friday morning incident.
At this time, Kearney says they are not ruling that one person may be responsible to both incidents, but says investigators currently have no evidence to indicate a possible connection.
Police are asking anyone with information about the incidents to contact police.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police at 215-686-8477 or submit an anonymous tip online.