Fairfax County Police in the Fair Oaks District have charged 21-year-old Jeremiah Whitmore Tolley in connection with a number of sexual assaults reported on local jogging trails in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, September 27, police responded to the latest report of a man groping and sexually assaulting women on the local walking/jogging trails. The victim told Fair Oaks detectives that she was walking on the trail alone when a man came up from behind her, trapped her in a "bear hug," and began groping her. At the time, this was the fifth sexual assault to occur on local Fairfax trails in a two-week period.
A passing car scared the assailant and forced him to flee. Responding officers brought their K-9 units and even a helicopter to search the area, but turned up nothing. At the time, the suspect was described as a Caucasian man, between 18- and 30-years-old, between 5' 8" and 6 feet tall.
Police tracked down the suspect the following day, who they identified as Jeremiah Whitmore Tolley, a 21-year-old Fairfax resident. At the time, detectives charged Tolley with abduction with intent to defile and sexual assault, but said that they were actively investigating whether he was responsible for the other reported sexual assaults on local jogging trails.
After a week-long investigation, Fairfax County Detectives announced
on October 3 that they had connected Tolley to sexual assaults dating as far back as late-August and obtained seven additional sexual assault charges against him.
Police fear there may have been other sexual assaults that Jeremiah Whitmore Tolley is responsible for -- maybe even assaults that have gone unreported. The Fairfax County Police Department is asking anyone who has been an unreported victim on one of the area trails to please contact Detective N. Porter at 703-591-0966 or the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131.
Even with Tolley behind bars, law enforcement officers are reiterating their warnings to the community to use caution and common sense when using the community's trail system, especially in the evening hours.
- If you are going to walk or jog on the local trails, make sure that you bring along a friend if you can.
- Make sure that you don't walk or jog in poorly lit areas after dark, especially if they are secluded.
- Leave the headphones at home so you can stay aware of your surroundings.
- Don't run the same route every day. Switch up your walking and jogging routes to make yourself less predictable.
While there is no
indication that Jeremiah Whitmore Tolley was working with anyone else, these are easy and common-sense things that local police believe can help mitigate these sorts of attacks in the future.