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Police working on sketch of man wanted for at least two attacks against men

Lance Holdforth

By Lance Holdforth, Special to QMI Agency

With the help of a victim’s memory, Barrie police are putting pencil to paper to develop a composite sketch of a suspect wanted for sexually assaulting at least two men.

After a man came forward as the victim of a sexual assault in Berzcy Park early Saturday morning, city police have connected the incident to a similar assault near the Collier Street Parkade in December.

“The investigators are in the process of trying to extract the description from our first victim from back in December. The victim we had recently this past weekend wasn’t able to give a description enough,” Const. Angie Butler said. “We’re still investigating and still appealing for witnesses.”

A man in his early 20s was walking home near the park around 5 a.m., Saturday, when a man approached him with friendly conversation before taking the victim into the park and sexually assaulting him.

Police won’t release key details about the incidents while the investigation is ongoing, but Butler did say a person walked through the park moments before the assault occurred and may have seen the suspect with the victim, not knowing what was going on at the time.

“The fact that we can get a composite out there is huge, especially for our witness. Although the witness may not know what they saw or who they saw and if it had any relevance (at the time), it’s very important,” Butler said. “Something of this nature and the seriousness of this crime is going to be actively investigated until it’s solved.”

Although only two incidents have been reported, Butler said there may be more victims and police hope once a sketch is released publicly it will help identify the man responsible and end in an arrest.

“The thing about a composite is that it’s not supposed to be an exact representation of what the person looks like,” she noted. “It’s supposed to be a picture that generates some kind of interest of familiarity within someone, so if they look at it they may say, ‘Hey I know that person’.”

When a physical identification is hard to achieve, police may resort to alternative means to identify the suspect’s features and characteristics.

“We may focus on things like a smell, or a particular part of his speech or his tone. The victim may not have focused on the person because their fear was so intense that they may have focused on the key things that were scaring them,” Butler said. “What was it he said? Or, more importantly. how did he say it that made our victims fear for their safety. Investigators may focus on that rather than the shape of his eyes or colour of his skin.”

After working with a police sketch artist, victims often remember details as they describe an attacker which can result in vital information coming to light.

“It could be someone you know. There are great gains that we can obtain in a case when it comes to a composite sketch,” Butler said. “Our forensic artist is excellent at the job he does and has a great ability to draw from descriptions from people and it helps spark their memory.”

The suspect targets young men walking alone in the late hours and early mornings, police say. He uses conversation

to make victims feel safe and comfortable before threatening them.

The suspect is described as a light-skinned black male, 25 to 35 years old, six-foot-two or six-foot-three with a thin but athletic build, a round face, and short well-groomed, dark-coloured flat top-style hair.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or suspicious activity in the area during that time can contact police at 705-725-7025.

Police also remind residents to be vigilant when walking alone during the overnight hours.

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