Two separate kidnapping and assault incidents along the Aliso Creek trail in Aliso Viejo have been linked using DNA technology, officials said Thursday.
The Orange County Crime Lab worked with the victims in both cases to collect DNA of the suspect, the O.C. Sheriff’s Department said in a news release. The DNA profiles revealed that the suspect in both incidents is the same person, investigators learned Thursday.
There is no DNA match for the man, however, in existing law enforcement databases. Investigators are seeking community help to identify the individual.
The first incident took place on Jan. 20, when a 22-year-old woman reported that while skateboarding at Woodfield Park, a man began to talk to her and then unexpectedly grabbed her. She told authorities she fought the man and screamed during the incident.
During the second incident, on April 2, deputies responded to Woodfield Park after another woman reported that a man grabbed her from behind and forced her into bushes off the hiking trail, east of the baseball field. The woman, who is in her 30s, said she fought back and screamed for help, and the man fled the area.
She described the man as being in his mid-30s, with darks eyes and little-to-no hair, a muscular build, wearing a lack shirt, black shorts and tennis shoes.
After both incidents, the department set up a task force to try to identify and arrest the suspect. A team of more than 100 deputies ran multiple operations in the area, working with local businesses and launching a public information campaign to find leads.
No suspect has yet been identified, officials said.
“With this new information, it’s vital that this individual is identified and doesn’t have the opportunity to attack again,” Sheriff Don Barnes said. “While our investigators continue their tireless attempts to identify this suspect, we implore the community to come forward if they have any information to share.”
Last September, officials were investigating two separate incidents of a man touching girls who were walking in Aliso Viejo near schools. It is unclear whether those incidents are related to the same suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Special Victims Detail at 714-647-7419. To provide information anonymously, contact Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227