Female student raped, robbed in the DeMun neighborhood

| Student Life Staff

This is the original breaking news update for this story. For the final version that ran in print, click here

UpdatedIncludes additional information released by St. Louis Police on Monday afternoon, comment from a Washington University spokesman and new information about the Campus2Home shuttle.

A female undergraduate was raped and robbed by an unknown suspect on Monday morning around 12:30 a.m., according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

The student was walking home on Skinker Boulevard near the 6200 block of Northwood Avenue when she walked by an individual approaching from the opposite direction. According to the University, the suspect approached the student from behind and forced her behind a nearby building where he sexually assaulted her. The suspect indicated he had a knife but did not display a weapon.

After the assault, the suspect took money from the victim and fled the scene. St. Louis police are investigating the rape, but did not release any information about the crime beyond an updated description of the suspect and basic details of the incident.

The victim was treated at a local hospital and, according to Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Steve Givens, released Monday afternoon.

“Obviously we’re very concerned about her and helping her get through this situation, so we’ve reached out to her and her family,” Givens said. “Her family is now here and she’s released from the hospital and doing well. That’s a relief, but obviously we’ve offered her counseling or whatever she needs to help get her life back.”

The assault comes several months after the University announced its Campus2Home shuttle service, which provides door-to-door service from campus to off-campus residences in neighborhoods surrounding the Danforth Campus. The shuttle service is available seven days a week between 7 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.

As a result of the attack, students will now be able to take the shuttle to neighborhoods south of campus—including the neighborhood in which the incident occurred.

Initially, the program was intended to serve students, faculty and staff living north of Forest Park Parkway in University City and the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood.

“We didn’t have a lot of students in the south” when the program began, Givens said. “Beginning tonight were going to open up the shuttle service to anyone who lives in that area.”

The shuttle leaves from the Mallinckrodt Center and the Brookings Drive every half hour and drives students to their final destination rather than following a set route.

Police described the suspect as a black male between 18 and 25 years of age, approximately 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 5 inches in height and weighing between 130 and 140 pounds. At the time of the assault, the suspect was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt over a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and white gloves.

Police request that any person with information relevant to the incident contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-371-8477.

With additional reporting by Michelle Merlin

This is the original breaking news update for this story. For the final version that ran in print, click here

  • christos armani

    First & foremost, my heart goes out to the young lady who was so viciously assaulted. I absolutely agree with the first 6 comments, & comments 8-10. Whoever sent out the email (from the university) subsequent to the attack, made a tremendous mental blunder & lapse of reasoning. There should have been someone in charge for proofreading the email prior to it being sent out. Either way, the university should consider giving the responsibility of informing the student body (of such events) to somebody else.

    As far as CG’s comment is concerned, (and I say this respectfully), I don’t think this is an appropriate time to create a dialogue regarding inequities based on race, especially considering that the suspect was reported to be black. Your comment implies that the university discriminates based on race, & there is no evidence to support this.

    Regarding Hannah’s comment, (and I say this respectfully), it is my opinion that you are absolutely wrong in your response to Debbie’s comment. I don not believe that she was blaming the victim whatsoever. Also, self defense does not give people a false sense of security. Anyone who practices martial arts knows this, so please don’t speak on things that you don’t possess first-hand knowledge of. In fact, the university should offer such a service. Someone who is studying self defense regularly is not going to “freeze”, because martial arts trains the mind as well as the body to be prepared in these exact types of situations. Also, telling woman that they shouldn’t attempt to resist is even more dangerous, & is the worst possible advice you can give to people. Not resisting is how women end up being sexually assaulted & sometimes killed. I have trained women in the art of self defense on a college campus & it empowers them, sharpens their mind to such attacks, & every woman I have ever trained felt more confident for having taken part in self defense training.

    I think it is important to point out that I believe the attacker may have possibly been waiting in the wings, across the street in Forest Park, where he could not be detected in the darkness, waiting for a potential victim to be walking alone. This needs to be considered by local police. Last but not least, other measures should also be implemented: Security cameras need to be put up in the areas where attacks have occurred, as well as around campus. Also, the shuttle service should be extended even further & include Clayton (if it doesn’t already). There needs to be more officers placed & greater patrols. We also have the Guardian Angels in California, & they are highly effective. We need to form our own group here

  • christos

    First & foremost, my heart goes out to the young lady who was so viciously assaulted. I absolutely agree with the first 6 comments, & comments 8-10. Whoever sent out the email (from the university) subsequent to the attack, made a tremendous mental blunder & lapse of reasoning. There should have been someone in charge for proofreading the email prior to it being sent out. Either way, the university should consider giving the responsibility of informing the student body (of such events) to somebody else.

    As far as CG’s comment is concerned, (and I say this respectfully), I don’t think this is an appropriate time to create a dialogue regarding inequities based on race, especially considering that the suspect was reported to be black. Your comment implies that the university discriminates based on race, & there is no evidence to support this.

    Regarding Hannah’s comment, (and I say this respectfully), it is my opinion that you are absolutely wrong in your response to Debbie’s comment. I don not believe that she was blaming the victim whatsoever. Also, self defense does not give people a false sense of security. Anyone who practices martial arts knows this, so please don’t speak on things that you don’t possess first-hand knowledge of. In fact, the university should offer such a service. Someone who is studying self defense regularly is not going to “freeze”, because martial arts trains the mind as well as the body to be prepared in these exact types of situations. Also, telling woman that they shouldn’t attempt to resist is even more dangerous, & is the worst possible advice you can give to people. Not resisting is how women end up being sexually assaulted & sometimes killed. I have trained women in the art of self defense on a college campus & it empowers them, sharpens their mind to such attacks, & every woman I have ever trained felt more confident for having taken part in self defense training.

    I think it is important to point out that I believe the attacker may have possibly been waiting in the wings, across the street in Forest Park, where he could not be detected in the darkness, waiting for a potential victim to be walking alone. This needs to be considered by local police. Last but not least, other measures should also be implemented: Security cameras need to be put up in the areas where attacks have occurred, as well as around campus. Also, the shuttle service should be extended even further & include Clayton (if it doesn’t already). There needs to be more officers placed & greater patrols. We also have the Guardian Angels in California, & they are highly effective. We need to form our own group here in this area.

  • Hannah

    Debbie, although self-defense classes may afford some students a false sense of security, I don’t think those are the most effective solution. Attempting to resist, whether with “self-defense” or a weapon, can be incredibly dangerous. Everyone who finds himself or herself in this frightening situation reacts in a different way; someone with all the self-defense training in the world may freeze, either out of fear or as a rational decision to keep their attacker from injuring them worse or killing them.

    Also, calling attention to something a crime victim supposedly could have done differently has the effect of blaming the victim rather than the attacker. Obviously, what happened to this student was absolutely not her fault.

    When a student is mugged, we don’t start asking why they didn’t take a self-defense class; in fact, police advise that you give in to what the suspect demands. No one blames students who are mugged for not resisting. Let’s extend rape survivors the same respect.

  • Marco

    It is becoming sadly obvious that the criminal element of St Louis view the students of Washington University as easy prey, or easy pickings. In NY we have the Guardian Angels, I think we need them here in St Louis.
    I hope they catch this animal and put him away before he does it again. Throw away the key I say.

  • Debbie M Block

    Shouldn’t the university be offering some basic self defense classes in light of this event?

  • EG

    it more likely had to do with crime statistics, not ethnic distribution. in st. louis, unfortunately race is correlated to socioeconomic status, which is correlated to crime rates. there is more crime in the neighborhoods north of campus than south of campus; therefore, more risk to students living in the north. ultimately though, this service should be provided to all students living off-campus if it is requested, regardless of their neighborhood. even if a neighborhood is generally “safe,” that doesn’t stop others from walking through at night.

  • CG

    Can we also talk about why the neighborhood south of campus was omitted to begin with? I think it had to do with the fact that neighborhoods north of campus are predominantly black, while neighborhoods south of campus are predominantly white.

  • I agree but…

    Even if the shuttle service was available to her, I still don’t think it should be implied in any way that this was the student’s fault. She did not commit any crime.

  • Concerned Male Senior

    “As a result of the attack, students will now be able to take the shuttle to neighborhoods south of campus—including the neighborhood in which the incident occurred.

    Initially, the program was intended to serve students, faculty and staff living north of Forest Park Parkway in University City and the Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood.”

    This is a VERY important fact that SHOULD have been included in the university announcement (I agree with MPM’s claims on the terrible university response via this announcement), and SHOULD be emailed to all students as both a correction and an apology. How dare you say “As a reminder” if a service wasn’t even available!

    Clearly, the new staff member coming on this year to deal with sexual assault has her work cut out for her. How sad.

  • chickpea00101

    As a female resident of the DeMun neighborhood, I am shocked and terrified by what happened. This side of campus always struck me as rather safe. Such events make me feel as though I have to be afraid everywhere I go. Regarding the “Campus to Home” shuttle, when the service was introduced I was really disappointed to learn that it didn’t serve my neighborhood. It’s quite sad that it took something like this to convince the University of the need on this side of campus too.

  • ditto “

    Agree with both of the above comments. The crime alert should not publicize a resource that was not available to this student.

    Once again, the university is reactionary after something terrible happens. For past examples, see:
    1. Peepholes in dorm room doors.
    2. More bluelights and improving basement safety north of the loop.
    3. Fencing off the south entrance to the 40 by the church.
    4. Installing door locks on common bathrooms of old dorms.

    This neighborhood was believed to be safe, and the university believed it was saving money. Unfortunately, both were wrong.

  • ditto

    “’We didn’t have a lot of students in the south’ when the program began, said Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Steve Givens.”

    When the program began… this year? Has there been a huge migration in the months since then? No, a huge number of students live in the Dorchester and surrounding DeMun neighborhood and always have.

  • MPM

    I’m fairly disgusted that the “Crime Alert” email mentions the “Campus to Home” shuttle as “a reminder”–how friendly!–while omitting the glaring detail that the victim in question wouldn’t have been able to take the shuttle to her apartment, an area where a significant number of students live. The availability of the shuttle (or in this case, lack thereof) should certainly be publicized, but it doesn’t mitigate the crime that has occurred, and this detail certainly shouldn’t have been so casually slipped into an email without making it VERY clear that the university is not blaming the victim for her inability to access this resource.