Jogger attack reminds runners to jog safely

Man grabbed, attacked jogger in Southside neighborhood, says police

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office revealed another piece of evidence in the search for a man who police say grabbed and attacked a jogger in a Southside neighborhood last month.

Police held up an extra large hooded sweatshirt at a media conference Wednesday. Police also said they believe the attacker they are looking for is a large person and may be a smoker.

Channel 4's Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson said the sweatshirt is a key piece of evidence in this case.

"If he was sweating or saliva got on it, it depends on how long the hoodie was out in the elements," said Jefferson.

The news of the attack has runners in Jacksonville on their toes, especially as many train for the Gate River Run next month.

"It keeps me running with a partner and during daylight hours," said runner Amy Jones.

"Just being a female runner or any runner, you wanna make sure you're out in the daylight because of cars and traffic," said runner Sarah Servold. "Obviously, you don't want anything worse to happen."

Jefferson said that other than the public recognizing the attacker's hoodie or his identity from the sketch that police released, the other hope is that the attacker gets stopped by police for a different reason, and is caught before he can strike again.

"What happens is an intelligence bulletin goes out to all the officers and they keep that in their files," said Jefferson. "You'd be surprised how many memories can be logged if they see someone that looks like composite sketch."

When Channel 4 approached joggers Wednesday about the late January attack and JSO's new evidence, many we spoke with told us they had a danger plan for their jogs.

"I have to check in with my sister who's my roommate and we check in every hour. If I don't check in, she knows something is going on and she needs to drive down," said runner Stephanie Coleman. "Around here, you have dark areas and those dark areas, so I don't do the morning run because of that."

According to Todd Williams, just planning to go out during daylight hours isn't enough. Williams, a multi-time gate River Run Champion has started a company called "Run Safer," which incorporates martial arts, self defense and safe running habits.

Williams' program essentially teaches joggers how to defend themselves in case an attack does occur.

"I feel any runner probably needs to go to some workshop or some type of instruction just so they can have it in their runner's tool box," said Williams.

Williams showed Channel 4 a few basic moves like making sure to have a wide stance if someone tries to grab you.

"I'm not going to turn someone into a ninja or Bruce Lee type. Just to show people what they can do to try and frustrate and get out of that situation," said Williams. "A few weeks ago we had an attack on a runner and she got out of harm's way. And that's all I wanna' do."

For more information on running safer, click here to visit Williams' website.

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