Investigators are working to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators behind a series of abduction attempts and child annoyances reported in Orange County, most recently on Tuesday morning.
The incidents targeting three girls and one woman all occurred within the last two weeks in Aliso Viejo and Laguna Hills, most of them along the Aliso Creek trail that links the neighboring communities, O.C. sheriff’s officials said in a news release.
Last week, deputies released sketches of the suspects in the two child annoyance cases, and on Tuesday they released a third sketch of the suspect in one of the kidnapping attempts.
#OCSDPIO: OCSheriff is investigating multiple incidents that have occurred within the last two weeks in the Aliso Viejo and Laguna Hills areas and the Aliso Creek Hiking Trail that connects the cities. Read the full press release here 👉https://t.co/BGSf4xSgsB pic.twitter.com/52l75t7bfI
— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSheriff) September 24, 2019
The first incident, being investigated as a child annoyance, occurred around 9 a.m. Sept. 12 in Aliso Viejo, near Windsong and Aliso Creek Road.
A 12-year-old girl told deputies a man had touched her on her walk to school. She said he was a white man in his early 30s with blond hair, dressed in black and wearing sunglasses, according to detectives.
The second case, also a child annoyance, occurred about 4 p.m. Sept. 17 along the hiking trail in Aliso Viejo.
The 16-year-old victim said she was walking home from school when a man touched her. She described him as being a Latino in his 30s measuring around 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds with short, black hair.
The third incident occurred the next day, Sept. 18, around 6:30 p.m. Officials say an 11-year-old girl was walking her dog on the same trail but in Laguna Hills, near Via Lomas and Sheep Hills Park, when a man grabbed her and began to drag her toward some bushes.
The attacker released the girl and ran off after she started screaming, deputies said.
The victim described her would-be kidnapper as a Latino man with short, dark hair. He was wearing a red Los Angeles Angels sweatshirt with blue jeans and black shoes, authorities said.
The second abduction attempt happened around 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, also along the trail near Sheep Hills Park, but closer to the underpass at Moulton Parkway, officials said.
A 28-year-old woman was walking there when she says she heard someone jogging behind her. The male jogger then grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her toward him from behind, according to investigators.
The woman was able to free herself after head-butting the man, and he ran off, officials said.
That victim described her attacker as a white man with medium-length, dark-brown hair who was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall. He was wearing a black sweatshirt with a large, colored logo on the back and jeans with a rip near the seat.
Because the victim did not see the man’s face, investigators have been unable to compile a sketch in Tuesday’s incident.
No arrests have been made.
Though suspect descriptions vary — with the man being alternately white or Latino, having dark or light hair and wearing different clothing — investigators think it’s possible at least some of the cases are connected.
Detectives have established a task force to identify suspects as the series of similar crimes continues.
“With these last two cases in particular, where a suspect is actually grabbing a person and pulling them some distance away, is an obvious escalation of that activity,” Sgt. Joses Walehwa told KTLA.
Anyone with information can contact the Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000. Anonymous tips may be submitted via 855-847-6227 or www.occrimestoppers.org.