LAPD Asks Public to Help in Northridge Sex Assault Case as ‘If This Was Your Mom or … Grandma’

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Los Angeles police on Wednesday pleaded with the public to help find a man who dragged an elderly Northridge woman from her home and tried to sexually assault her in an attack that lasted 15 minutes.

The LAPD released this sketch on Feb. 16, 2016, of a man accused of attempting to sexually assault a woman in Northridge.

The LAPD released this sketch on Feb. 16, 2016, of a man accused of attempting to sexually assault a woman in Northridge.

The victim was in her home in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood of Northridge about 10:30 p.m. Feb. 2 when the attack occurred. The crime was first made public Tuesday, when LAPD distributed a sketch of the attacker.

"The suspect entered the victim's home, physically grabbed her, picked her up, and dragged her out of her residence and attempted to sexually assault her," a Los Angeles Police Department official said at a morning news conference Wednesday.

After being unsuccessful, the assailant fled through the home's rear yard. The victim resisted, and the attacker may have decided the assault wasn't "worth the effort," LAPD Detective Stefanie Diaz said.

The detective would not say if the man broke into the home but said he "did gain access." The victim did not know her the attacker, Diaz said.

"His motives were no other motive but ... sexual assault, based on his actions," Diaz said.

Police did not identify the victim or say what street she lived, but described her as elderly. Diaz said she was over 70.

A neighbor told KTLA the woman in her 80s, independent and lives alone. The victim's husband died last year, Ronald Rebert told KTLA.

Diaz said the investigation began the night of the attack but now LAPD is publicizing the case in order to seek the public's help. Even seemingly insignificant details could help, she said.

"If this was your mom or your grandma, definitely you would want somebody to come forward," Diaz said.

The detective described the victim as a "strong woman."

"We are grateful for her strength and ... for the courage to overcome this type of incident," Diaz said.

Investigators released a composite sketch of the attacker Tuesday, and described him as black, about 30 to 40 years old, standing about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds.

He was last seen wearing a jacket, shirt, pants and shoes -- all the color black.

Police do not believe the attacker is linked to other sexual assaults, but that could change, Diaz said. She called the Feb. 2 attack a "crime of opportunity."

Anyone with information was asked to contact Devonshire Detective Scott Scheff at 818-832-0918. During nonbusiness hours or on weekends, calls can be made to 877-527-3247.