Durham Police investigate sexual assault in walking tunnel in Woodcroft community

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Authorities are searching for a man who attacked and sexually assaulted a woman on a walking trail in the Woodcroft community in south Durham.

According to police, the woman was walking in a tunnel near Woodcroft Parkway and Old Fox Trail around 3:30 p.m. on January 23rd when a man attacked her and sexually assaulted her.

Police said the only suspect description at this time is a male of an unknown race wearing a black hoodie style sweatshirt and blue jeans.

People who live in the area are shaken up after hearing about what happened.

“We have a great thing here, we have all these paths and to have someone do something like that doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Virginia Politano, who lives in Woodcroft.

“We had walked there earlier that day about 1 or 1:30 [p.m.] and it’s just crazy to think that something like that could happen,” said Neils Barringer, who lives in Woodcroft.

CBS 17 spoke with a self-defense instructor about what women should protect themselves while walking or running on the trail.

“Any distractions that you can reduce increases your awareness,” said Nichole Howe, an instructor at Quest Martial Arts in Chapel Hill.

Howe said it is best to take the earbuds out when on the trail.

“Being able to not hear what’s going on in your surroundings really diminishes your awareness,” Howe said.

Howe said it is a good idea to stay off of your phone and to take a friend with you when you go for a walk or a run if you can.

Howe said if you ever get approached and attacked, you should use any tool you have to fight them off.

“Whether that’s your voice, whether that’s your hands, your feet, your knees, your elbows, whether its a weapon, if you choose to carry a weapon, you need to be prepared and able to use those weapons effectively,” Howe said.

If you have any information on this case, call Investigator Williams at 919-560-4440 ext. 29330 or Crimestoppers at 919-683-1200.

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