CRIME

Springfield groper possibly strikes for 16th, 17th time (Map)

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After going nearly a month without an incident, the Springfield groper may have struck twice in a span of 30 minutes Wednesday afternoon.

The most recent incidents, which would be the 16th and 17th assaults if connected to the previous assaults that date back to last September, took place at 3:10 p.m. and 3:35 p.m. in the same area where at least seven other assaults have taken place.

Both happened just north of the Springfield Plaza Shopping Center.

Fairfax County Police say Wednesday's first attack happened at about 3:10 p.m. as the victim, a 30-year-old woman, was walking on Dinwiddie Street near Dana Avenue. She told police that a man walked up behind her, groped her and fled.

Twenty-five minutes later, a 25-year-old woman walking on Backlick Road near the Capital Beltway said she was groped by a suspect, who again fled quickly.

Police describe the suspect in the same way they've described the person they're looking for in potentially linked attacks - a Hispanic man standing about 5-foot-6. He wore a black jacket and blue jeans during both of Wednesday's attacks.

"It's hard to say exactly what is going through this person's head, but clearly they don't want to stop," says Lucy Caldwell, a Fairfax County Police spokesperson.

Authorities had not received a report of a connected assault in this string of gropings since January 3.

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