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Profiler: Fairfax Co. serial groper may be seeking publicity

Friday - 12/14/2012, 10:43am  ET

groper
The serial groper may be operating in his own neighborhood, says a former FBI profiler. (Courtesy of Fairfax County Police Dept.)

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A serial groper suspected in 14 incidents in the Springfield, Va., area since September may be operating in his own neighborhood, an expert says.

Former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt says the serial groper is operating in his own comfort zone but may soon spread out.

"Obviously, with over a dozen incidents, this guy is comfortable with what he is doing. He may start to branch out and move away," he says.

A Thursday morning incident occurred in broad daylight in the same neighborhood of Springfield - near Floyd Avenue and Erving Street - where several other victims were attacked.

A 23-year-old woman was grabbed from behind and fondled before the man ran away, police say. He fit the same general description as the suspect in 12 other attacks, although this time police say he may have grown a short cut beard and ditched his red baseball cap.

Later Thursday, police say a possible 14th incident took place at about 5:45 p.m. Police say a 43-year-old woman was grabbed from behind while walking in the 6000 block of Hibbling Avenue. The suspect fled when the woman turned and yelled at him. He was described as wearing a black jacket, black pants and being between 20 and 30 years old.

Van Zandt says publicity about the cases is a double-edged sword.

"One side of the sword says we're encouraging somebody like this. They want to hear about it and they'll do it again. The other side says we have to get the information out for the protection of the public," he says.

Fairfax County police have indicated in the past there has been some difficulty communicating with people in the neighborhood because of a language barrier.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)