Woman abducted, nearly raped in Lake City, police say

Police: 3 attackers sought after passerby foiled attempted rape

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Allyson Henning - Reporter

LAKE CITY, Fla. - There's a neighborhood crime alert in Lake City, where officers are looking for three men who police said abducted a woman Thursday night and attempted to rape her.

The Lake City Police Department said the attack was only stopped because someone happened to walk by. 

It happened about 8 p.m. near the railroad tracks on Northwest Dixie Street while the woman was walking to a friend's house. 

The woman told police she passed a dark-colored midsize SUV on Northwest Lake Jeffery Road near Young's Park and a man inside yelled at her to come "party with them" and offered her alcohol.

According to police, the woman continued walking past the well-known tobacco barns but noticed the SUV was following her. 

When she began to cross the railroad tracks on Northwest Dixie Street, police said, the vehicle cut in front of her and three men got out.

She told police that one of them came up behind her, put something around her neck and began choking her while dragging her toward the SUV. 

Once they got her inside, police said, the men began to forcefully remove her clothes in an attempt to rape her, but then a person walked by. 

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The three men told her it was her "lucky day," let her go and then took off. 

The community is now on edge because the three men have not been found. Harriette Williamson owns a day care located less than 1,000 feet from where the attack happened. 

"It's very shocking that someone would take advantage of someone who is minding their own business," she said. "God's not pleased and I don't like it either."

Neighbors told News4Jax on Friday that they were upset about what happened.

"That's not even late night. That's 8 o'clock. People are still out in the community, getting things done before going in. For anyone to abduct a woman is wrong," aid parent Samantha Curry. "I am shocked and highly appalled."

Parent and school teacher Demetra Williamson and other neighbors described the area as a close-knit community.

"I have teenage daughters and they walk around in this neighborhood a lot, and we've raised a lot of kids in this neighborhood. So I'm very disheartened to hear someone getting raped or attacked or hurt in this area," she said. "If we don't speak up, no one knows what happens. If you don't say anything, we'll never find out."

Police said one of the black men had medium-length dreads and the other two had shorter hair. Officers were told that all of the men were wearing black shirts, one of which had gold graffiti on it. 

With women in the area on high alert, parent and victims' advocate Rarmela Bowens said it's important that anyone with information about the attack call police.

"Even though they were not able to fully carry out the attack, rape is real and it's wrong," Bowens said. "Everyone in the surrounding area needs to know this is a child care center here. My church is right here behind us. There's a lot of young people and housing communities nearby where there are a lot of young women and we are very concerned."

Anyone with information about the identities of the men is asked to call the Police Department at 386-752-4343 and ask for the Criminal Investigations Division. 

"If you saw anything, report it to the police or a hotline number," Curry said. "If you want to be anonymous, I understand, but say something because, if it happened once, it can happen again."

Another Way, Inc., is a rape crisis center with a 24-hour hotline for women who have been sexually assaulted. The helpline number is 1-866-875-7983.

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