close
close

Latest Post

Chinese company Windrose plans truck assembly plant in the USA Trees are “migrating” to survive climate change
Woman strangled by stranger on towpath

AKRON, Ohio — A woman jogging on a section of the Towpath Trail in Akron was attacked and strangled by a stranger nearly two weeks ago, but details of the horrifying crime are only now coming to light.

The incident occurred on the evening of June 28 on the trail near W. Bartges Street in downtown Akron.

The victim, a 25-year-old medical student, told News 5 she was running around 8:20 p.m. She ran past a man sitting on the ground at one point, but when she turned around and passed him a second time, he attacked her.

“Suddenly I felt someone’s arm grab me around the neck as if he wanted to strangle me. I remember he squeezed so hard that I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I remember thinking I was going to die.”

She was knocked to the ground and lost consciousness behind an empty building.

When she regained consciousness, she saw another man. It turned out to be a doctor who happened to be walking along the Towpath Trail.

The doctor asked the woman if she was OK, which apparently scared off the attacker, who ran south down the trail. No one was arrested.

According to a police report, the witness told police he saw the man put his arm around the victim’s neck.

“The guy who attacked me may have been scared or nervous and let go of his arm,” the victim said.

The woman ran to nearby beach volleyball courts, where another man called 911.

Police bodycam video shows officers speaking to the woman. Photos show scratches near the woman’s left wrist and elbow.

Sergeant Michael Murphy said the horrific attack appeared to be random.

“The fear that people feel walking along the towpath at any time of day is terrible,” Murphy said. “I can’t imagine what was going through her mind during the incident and I know other people are probably feeling fear now too.”

Joanne Bondi and Susan Oneacre, who regularly cycle along this route, were surprised to hear about the crime.

“I say, I’m sorry this happened because it’s a trauma that you’re going to live with for a long time,” Bondi said.

Both women said they made it a point not to ride the trail alone.

“I would never ride this alone, even on a bike, because I feel like I have a way out on a bike,” Oneacre said. “We want all of these trails to be safe, and it’s a gem.”

Since the attack, police say they have increased patrols in the towpath area.

Nevertheless, police are pushing for safety precautions for users of the 100-mile towpath that stretches from Cleveland to New Philadelphia.

Murphy stressed that people should be aware of their surroundings, exercise in well-lit areas, and run, walk or cycle in pairs or groups.

Vernon Cooper, who cycles this route almost every day, offered different advice.

“Try to have some kind of protection, some kind of mace, a loud whistle or screaming and yelling,” Cooper said.

Police have only a vague description of the suspect: an older teenager or young man wearing dark clothing and a leather bracelet.

Akron Police have issued a BOLO (Be On Lookout) alert to the entire department, but there are currently no suspects.

“We have no clues as to who this could be. The manhunt is still active. We are currently still investigating and checking who this person could be,” Murphy said.

With the strangler still at large, the victim said she will be extra cautious while running, but will no longer exercise on that section of the trail. She is also making other plans for her safety.

“I plan to take a self-defense course.”

Anyone with information about the attack should contact Akron police or Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS.

We are moving through

Do you have a story you’d like us to follow? Let us know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *