DNA may help investigators stop attacks on rural Sonoma County roads

  • Sketch released in early March of man suspected in five attempted attacks on women driving in rural areas.

DNA evidence from the Nov. 18 sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman driving alone in Bennett Valley may help detectives put an end to a series of attacks on rural Sonoma County roads.

At least 13 women in Sonoma County, including five whose reports were confirmed Tuesday, have been accosted in somewhat similar circumstances since November.

The newest confirmed reports, out of Bennett Valley, all occurred the first week of April and involved an aggressive male driver who closely followed solo women drivers and attempted to make them pull over.

?We?re taking all of them into consideration to keep checking if we are able to link them all together,? said Sgt. Dave Thompson, head of the Sonoma County Sheriff Department?s sex crimes unit, charged with investigating the incidents.

Based on early indications, investigators believe the new Bennett Valley reports will be connected to other incidents in Bennett Valley and Rohnert Park in November and December, the Calistoga Road area in January and February and the Sebastopol area this month.

The suspect in each of the incidents used a similar tactic to attempt to get the women to stop, Thompson said.

?He?s flashing his light and really aggressively pursuing the women,? Thompson said.

Those attacks occurred three times on Bennett Ridge Road, once on Pressley Road and once on Hidden Acres, all in rural Bennett Valley. It brings the total number of women accosted in Sonoma County to 13.

Three women have been physically attacked, one sexually assaulted. All have fought their assailant.

Thompson said the DNA evidence collected in November could halt the attacks if it matches DNA on file in the state?s database.

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