CRIME

Hundreds turn out for police briefing on 'Springfield Groper'

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A standing room only crowd of several hundred came out to a Springfield elementary school Thursday night to listen and ask police questions about the "Springfield Groper.

"Police suspect the same person may be responsible for at least 22 groping incidents dating from this past September.

The suspect normally comes up behind a woman walking alone, grabs her below the waist, and then runs away.

"I don't think this man should be tormenting our neighborhood anymore," said Jennifer Decker, a concerned resident who came to Thursday's meeting. "I think he needs to stop."

At the meeting, which was held at Crestwood Elementary School, police told the crowd that women of different races and ages have been victims.

They say one thing all the cases have had in common is that the women were alone. There has never been a witness other than the victim herself who has come forward.

Police say the suspect always manages to get away, even escaping in one case where the victim ran into an officer right after being groped.

"I'm very frustrated, and so are the officers at the station, that he's able to get away," said Fairfax County Police Capt. Jim Baumstark.

Baumstark says there are two main ways the suspect may finally be caught. One possibility is an officer will drive by as the suspect is groping someone.

But he says the more likely possibility is a citizen will give a tip leading to an arrest. There is a $1000 reward being offered for such a tip.

The alleged groper has struck four times in the last few weeks.

The most recent incident happened Tuesday night in the Springfield Square neighborhood.

Police say a woman was putting luggage in her car's trunk when a man came up from behind and grabbed her. She turned around and he ran away.

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