GOLETA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says two women who were assaulted in separate incidents in the same area in Goleta may have been attacked by the same person.
The Sheriff's Office received two reports of women being assaulted less than 72 hours apart in the area of Haskell's Beach and Phelps Road. Similar suspect descriptions and motives led authorities to believe the two incidents are related.
The first incident took place Saturday afternoon when a 22-year-old woman was jogging on a dirt path along a creek in the area of Phelps Road and Ocean Walk Lane. A man grabbed the woman by the arm and shoulder and tried to pull the woman closer to him. She tried to fight to break free, but her attacker punched her in the face. He eventually let go and the woman was able to run away and escape to a nearby home to call 911.
She described her attacker as a white male, between 40 and 50 years old with average height and weight. He had a dirty brown and white beard and was wearing a black shirt. She also said her attacker had a distinct smell of alcohol.
She suffered only minor injuries from her attack.
The second incident happened late Monday night. At around 10:30 p.m., an 18-year-old woman was sitting near her parked car in the Haskell's Beach parking lot while she was waiting for her friends. She noticed a man sitting in a dark colored vehicle in the same parking lot. He got out of his car and approached the girl, asking if everything was OK. The woman said the man placed a hand on her back while speaking to her. The man then reached down the front of her shirt and sexually assaulted her.
The woman fought back, kicking the man in his groin. The attacker returned to his car and drove away as the woman ran towards her friends for help. She described her attacker as a white man between 50 and 60 years old with average height and weight. He had dark hair that went over his ears and forehead and a white beard. He was wearing blue jeans and a dark gray hooded sweatshirt. He reportedly smelled of marijuana and dirt.
His vehicle was described as an older model sedan, possibly dark gray in color, similar to a Chevrolet Volt.
Due to the similar descriptions and location of the incidents, the Sheriff's Office believes the two assaults were committed by the same man.
He's described as a white man between 40 and 60 years old, between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot and weighing between 175 and 200 pounds. He has a dirty white beard and may be dirty in appearance. He also may be driving a small, older model four-door vehicle, similar to a Chevrolet Volt.
Anyone who might have information about the suspect should contact the Sheriff's Office. If you see a man matching the description of the suspect, you should call 911 immediately.
Tips to remain safe while enjoying public spaces and parks include sharing your itinerary with family and friends, carry a cell phone, and travel in numbers. It is also a good idea to try to exercise in the day time and limit any music or apps that could become distracting. The sheriff's office says the most important thing to remember is to stay alert. "Your eyes, ears and intuition can be some of your greatest sources of self-protection."