JSO releases sketch of a rape suspect

Police: Man raped victim in front of her child behind Bartram Park stores

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter, News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police are investigating the sexual battery of a woman who was walking with her baby in a stroller just before 6 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of the Bartram Park shopping center.  

Police said the woman was walking from the grocery store when she was approached by a man driving a gray four-door vehicle with poorly tinted windows.  

The woman said she ignored the man and continued to walk through the parking lot. She went to cut through the rear of the shopping center, near a wooded area that would lead to her residence, when the man approached her again, got out of his vehicle and raped her. The woman said she was sexually battered in front of her child. 

Saturday JSO released a sketch of the alleged rapists.

He is described as a light-skinned black male or possibly Hispanic male, 20-30 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, muscular build, straight black hair and brown eyes. The suspect is also believed to have scratches on the right side of his face as a result of the attack. The suspect was last seen wearing gray pants.

"I'm floored. One, that nobody else saw her and that (someone) can take her and a baby and rape her. There's no words to explain the sorrow that I feel for her," laments shopper Debbie Vanschoor.

Channel 4's Crystal Moyer walked through the wooded area with our Crime and Safety Analyst, Gil Smith.

"Back in here you can see a section set up where homeless people frequent, you have a lot of mattresses... liquor bottles back here. This particular incident had nothing to do with a homeless person, but still coming through this trail, no one can see anything and you're so far from the parking lot that anybody can do anything back here," Smith said.

"It's really a place that no one should cut through, and I know it's a short cut to get to the apartments. But it's a long distance, so if you're screaming, no one from the mall can hear you and no one in the apartment area can hear you either because you're so far away," Smith said.

Smith says it's important for everyone to be aware of their surroundings and avoid secluded areas, no matter what part of town you're in. As for the people in Bartram Park, they say they're going to be more vigilant.

"Definitely hold my keys. Hit the panic button if I feel uncomfortable. Hopefully that will deter somebody. It's too bad for her that she was by herself and she did walk. I would be more aware of my surroundings for sure," says shopper Debbie Vanschoor.​

In the meantime, police are looking to see if surveillance footage from any of the nearby businesses recorded the incident or can give more details about the suspect.

After the attack, the woman went home and called police. The suspect is described as a mixed race, possibly light skin black male or Hispanic male. He is about 5 feet 8 inches tall with short straight black hair, brown eyes and a fit, muscular build. He could possibly have scratch marks on his face from the victim.

The woman underwent medical treatment for minor injuries. The child is in the care of family members. 

Anyone with information is asked to call police or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.

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