Towson Univ. student raped off campus

Balto. County police seek help finding man who broke into her apartment

February 17, 2005|By Laura Barnhardt and Sara Neufeld | Laura Barnhardt and Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

A 21-year-old Towson University student was raped in her off-campus apartment by an intruder, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

The woman was sleeping in the bedroom of her apartment in the Fairways at Towson complex when a man broke in just after 5 a.m. Tuesday, police said. The man assaulted and raped her, police said.

She was treated at a nearby hospital and released, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.

Police were not disclosing details of how the man broke into the apartment in the 1300 block of Airlie Way, and they did not release a description of the assailant.

Vinson said investigators are looking at whether the incident is connected to a rape of a Towson University student in May. In that case, which remains unsolved, a man broke into an apartment in a different off-campus complex about 4 a.m., threatened a 20-year-old woman with a knife and raped her.

2 miles from campus

This week's incident happened about two miles from campus in a brick three-story, garden-style apartment building with balconies and sliding-glass doors where many students live.

The Fairways, a complex with 830 tower and garden-style apartments formerly known as Glenmont Towers, is managed by Sawyer Realty Holdings in College Park. Officials from the company released a statement yesterday saying they are cooperating fully with police and are "committed to protecting the safety and security of our residents, guests and employees."

The complex provides security in the late-night and early-morning hours, said Chris Davis, director of safety and risk management for Sawyer. Davis said management officials planned to send a notice to residents last night urging them to be careful, and they were considering additional security.

Students and Fairways residents yesterday expressed shock.

"Oh, my God," said Erin Powers, a 21-year-old psychology major at Towson University. "I've been there before, plenty of times."

Melkia Wheatfall, 21, who works in retail and has lived in a Fairways apartment with her 2-year-old son for the past year, said she has not heard of any other crime in the complex. She said students often have parties there on the weekends, but she described the neighborhood as peaceful.

"It is a safe place," she said, adding that she and others have left their doors unlocked on occasion.

Campus police sometimes issue security warnings about off-campus crimes, but university police did not notify students about the rape or post the information on the Web site. Towson University spokeswoman Susanna Craine said that Tuesday's rape was farther from campus than most of the off-campus crimes that university police issue warnings about.

`You have to be vigilant'

But, she said, police and residence hall assistants will be talking with students about the incident. "The thing you have to do is tell the students, `This happened. It didn't happen on campus, but you have to be vigilant,'" she said.

Campus police began patrolling residence halls on campus last year, Craine said.

County police asked that anyone who may have noticed someone or something suspicious call 410-307-2020 or, for a possible reward, Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-2587.

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