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Man offers help, then rapes teen

By LEANORA MINAI
Published February 4, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - An 18-year-old woman was raped Sunday near an exit of Interstate 275 by a man posing as a good Samaritan.

The woman was driving north on the interstate at 11:45 p.m. when she stopped at the end of the 38th Avenue N exit to adjust a stereo speaker in her trunk, said Sgt. Katy Connor-Dubina. An unknown man pulled his car behind her and told her he could help, police said.

"She answered back, "Thank you, that's great,' " Connor-Dubina said. But instead of helping, the man grabbed the woman by the back of the head and told her not to scream.

"He just did a blitzed attack," Connor-Dubina said. "He brought her back to his car and put her in the back seat and sexually battered her."

The man was not armed and did not hit the woman, police said. After the attack, he stood up, and the woman ran to her car, drove away and called police.

"It all happened very, very quickly," Connor-Dubina said.

The woman, a St. Petersburg resident, told police the man was white and older than 30 with a medium build, clean shaven face and short, straight brown hair. He was driving a dark 1996 Toyota with a dark top and tan interior.

Police said the woman did not know the man.

"In the vast majority of sexual batteries, the victim knows the suspect, so stranger rapes are still somewhat of an anomaly," Connor-Dubina said.

Police said a similar attack happened in September near the interstate's Dick Misener Bridge before the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. However, investigators do not believe that incident is related to Sunday's offense.

About midnight Sept. 8, a 49-year-old Sarasota woman's vehicle broke down along the interstate. Two men in a car pulled up and offered to help her. But they raped her behind the vehicles on the side of the highway.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Donald Crotty at (727) 893-7563.

- Leanora Minai can be reached at minai@sptimes.com or 727 893-8406.

[Last modified February 4, 2004, 01:31:46]


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