Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 24, 2012

Girl, 14, said man tried to pull her off trail

It's the second assault in five weeks

TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities hope another trail assault isn't the start of a troubling trend.

Grand Traverse sheriff's deputies are looking for a man who apparently tried to abduct a teen girl on the TART trail in East Bay Township Tuesday. It's the second assault of a female trail walker in about five weeks.

"We live in a very safe community, and we haven't had a long history of violent crime or crimes against people," Grand Traverse Undersheriff Nate Alger said. "When you have two of these incidents so close together, as a law enforcement community, we have to begin to wonder if this is going to be a trend and why it's happening."

A girl, 14, was walking on the TART near Three Mile and Parsons roads at about noon when a man attempted to pull her into the woods, deputies said. She was able to bite the man and run away. Authorities weren't immediately able to locate the suspect with tracking dogs.

The suspect is described as an older white male with wrinkles. He stands between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall with blonde hair. At the time of the incident, he wore blue jeans, a gray pullover shirt with a breast pocket and black gloves. The man has a limp and might have an injured arm.

"According to the victim, she bit his left arm sufficient enough to leave a mark," Alger said.

Tips are crucial in investigations of this nature, Alger said.

"The public helps us solve the majority of these," he said. "We would encourage people to call us if they've seen someone that matches that physical description or if they know someone who may have done something like this."

The incident is similar to one that happened on the Boardman Lake Trail on Sept. 16. David Michael Walter, 42, of Kingsley, is charged with attempted unlawful imprisonment and assault, or assault and battery, after that incident.

Authorities believe Walter grabbed a woman and tried to drag her into the woods as she walked along the trail. She was able to fight free, run away and call police. Walter was arrested several days later and remains in jail. His attorney said in court last week that Walter is innocent of the charges.

Anyone with information about the Tuesday incident is asked to call (231) 922-4550.

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