Three arrests made in sexual assault, Metra robberies
Three major arrests last week appear to have solved a series of crimes, including the criminal sexual assault of a student. The arrests were the result of coordinated work between University, city and Metra police, the South East Chicago Commission announced.
The latest arrest occurred Jan. 15, when the victim of a sexual assault volunteered to help police find the location to which she was taken after being abducted from the street in the 5600 block of Woodlawn Avenue.
According to police reports, the victim was stopped at 4 p.m. Jan. 15 as she was walking north on the east side of Woodlawn. The suspect thrust a hard object against her back, forced her into a car and drove to the 4300 block of Berkeley, where he took her into an abandoned building and criminally sexually assaulted her.
After her release from the Hospitals, the victim was able to retrace the route the suspect had taken and find the location of the incident. The suspect, identified as Carlos Bowman, 21, of the 5200 block of South Wolcott, was sitting in a car with several other people outside the building. He was subsequently arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault; he is being held in Cook County Jail on $300,000 bond.
Two days earlier, police from the University, Metra and the city arrested a 14-year-old suspect on the 56th Street Metra platform after he attempted to rob a student in the 5800 block of Kimbark Avenue. University Police put out a description and the Metra Police found the suspect lurking on the platform. The suspect was identified in later lineups by victims in two separate robberies on the 56th Street platform on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11, as well as in a robbery in the 5400 block of Kenwood on Jan. 6. The suspect's general mode of operating was to punch his victims in the face with his fist before robbing them. Police believe he and his accomplices may have been involved in a number of other robberies in the area.
On Jan. 10, a stakeout by University Police on the 59th Street Metra Platform led to the arrest of a 15-year-old Woodlawn resident in connection with a string of robberies on the platform and in the area near 60th Street. Police discovered that the suspect carried a replica of an automatic handgun, matching descriptions given after a series of robberies that occurred between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 of a robber with a gun. The suspect is also being held for questioning in connection with a criminal sexual assault that occurred at the station on Dec. 10.
"We've increased our patrols throughout the neighborhood," said Rudolph Nimocks, Executive Director of University Police, "and we are working closely with city and Metra police." Nimocks said that in addition to the 14 patrol cars that, conditions permitting, may be on the street in the evening, additional special patrols have been set up, including those on the Metra platforms and in the central campus area.
Robert Mason, Executive Director of the SECC, said there is great coordination between the police agencies, "but it is incumbent on us to keep people informed as to what is happening, so they can help. No one should abandon the streets of Hyde Park. Use the shops and stores. Skate on the Midway. Just act with common sense."
He reported that although total reported crime for 1996 declined 3 percent compared to 1995, robberies increased 21 percent compared to the previous year. A surge in robberies in the last three months of 1996 was responsible for the increase; many of those have been solved with the recent arrests. He also reminded residents that walking with one or more companions substantially diminishes the risk of being victimized. A survey conducted over the past three years shows that 78 percent of robbery/purse snatching victims were alone.
Whenever possible, use the campus bus or late-night van services. If you are the victim of a crime, call the police immediately. The quicker police are notified of a crime, the better the chance that the police will arrest the offender. Use one of the 146 white emergency phones throughout the neighborhood to notify police quickly. Be aware that a crime can occur in any place in any neighborhood at any time. Be alert when you walk on the street. Be aware of those around you. Walk in a confident manner. Don't hesitate to cross the street or walk in the middle of the street to avoid suspicious persons or situations.