Jogger attacked in Palm Harbor neighborhood

PALM HARBOR - Pinellas County deputies passed out a composite sketch of a young man they said assaulted a jogger in Palm Harbor.

ABC Action News is not identifying the victim because she is frightened.  "It's really sad, the loss of security in the neighborhood," she said.

At 50 years old, she and her husband raised their kids in the Tarpon Woods area and always felt safe... until September 26.

Training for a marathon, the avid jogger had almost completed her nine-mile run and was blocks from home, when, "Someone grabbed me from behind and put me in a choke hold.  I tried to scream but I couldn't really scream because he had my neck."
She says he managed to grope her, but believes a car coming around the bend scared him off.  The driver stopped to help her.
"This day and age a woman flags you down 8:30 at night.  He stops and takes me home.  He was so kind," she said.
Not only did he take her home. At a press conference, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the neighbor, who is not being identified, drove through the neighborhood trying to find the attacker.
"Was it not for this passerby, we would not even have a composite to give you, because she was attacked from behind.  She never saw his face," said Gualtieri.

The victim is thankful too.  "I am so grateful he went to the station and gave them a composite sketch.  He did not need to do that."
And while Sheriff Gaultieri said detectives are not sure what the suspects's true motives were, he does not want people to panic.  He lives right around the corner from the victim.
"It's very troubling to us, because there is no indication of crime in the area. There is no reason to be concerned, only that someone did this and we need to find him," Sheriff Gaultieri said.

The sheriff said detectives believe the suspect either lives in the neighborhood or jumped into a car and drove off because K-9s lost the scent.
In the meantime, the victim won't be jogging.  And when she does, she'll carry an alarm, a gift from her close friends.  It's a gift she hopes she'll never have to use.

"When I look at the neighborhood, I look at it differently and it would be nice to have that sense of security again.  So it would be nice if they caught him."

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