Story Summary

Serial flasher

A man was reported to have flashed young girls at various West Seattle schools over the course of 10 days.

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SEATTLE — Cops are on the search for another flasher in West Seattle. A man, sitting half-naked in his car, tried contacting a Denny Middle School student while she was walking on Southwest Kenyon Street, police said Tuesday.

walkThis is at least the sixth report of a case of indecent exposure – and the latest in a string of flashers that began last summer.

This time, the young girl told police she even hid underneath a car to get away from the man.

At about 2:30 p.m. Monday, the girl left school and headed to meet her mother a few blocks away. When she got to 30th Avenue SW, she told police, she saw a man sitting half-naked in his car, touching himself inappropriately and trying to get her attention.

“(She) ran to a nearby house,” said Seattle police spokeswoman Renee Witt. “She heard the suspect start his car and she then hid underneath a pickup truck because she thought he was looking for her.”

The flasher struck in an area that’s had this problem before. West Seattle has seen several cases of people exposing themselves to school children.

“Detectives will take a look,” said Witt. “They’ll go through and compare their notes and see if there may be a connection between this incident and some of the ones from last year. It’s an open and active case.”

Cops say their suspect was described as a heavy-set Hispanic man driving a small- to medium-sized car with tinted windows – and the car might be missing the front grill.

 

Local News
01/07/14

Student flees from flasher in West Seattle

WEST SEATTLE – Police are searching for yet another flasher in West Seattle.

A female student walking home from Denny Middle School noticed a man sitting half-naked inside a parked car at 2:30 p.m. Monday near Southwest Kenyon Street, police said.

flasherThe child told police she heard the suspect trying to get her attention. When the girl looked into the car she told police the man was touching his genitals and calling to her by saying, “pst, pst,” police said.

A police report says the suspect’s car door was wide open and the man was reclining in his seat.

The young girl immediately turned away and ran to a nearby home. When the child heard the suspect turn on his car, she then hid underneath a truck thinking the man was searching for her. The victim told police the suspect then fled the area.

Police were not able to locate the suspect or his car. The victim described the vehicle as a small or medium 4-door vehicle with tinted windows and was possibly missing the front grill.

The location of Monday’s incident was only a few blocks away from where other flashing incidents happened in West Seattle last year. There were half-a-dozen reported flashings in West Seattle alone from September-December.

Administrators from Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School sent this letter home with students following the incident:

January 7, 2014

Dear Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School Students and Families,

We are writing with an important safety update regarding walking to and from school. 

An incident occurred yesterday, Monday, January 6: A Denny student was walking home between the times of 2:30 and 2:45 PM when a man in a car exposed himself to her. This lewd incident occurred near the intersection of 30th Avenue Southwest and Kenyon.

Our student did a great job by running away and calling her mother, who quickly informed the police, who are now actively investigating the incident.  Today, Seattle Public Schools security staff will be in that same area after school during both Denny and Sealth dismissal times.

We would like to encourage all of our families to discuss personal safety walking to and from school with your child.  Notifying parents, school staff, and the police right away is very important and is very much appreciated any time anything of concern happens.  We are all here to help with whatever the situation might be.  Thank you for all that you do in support of our students.

Sincerely,

Jeff Clark, Denny International Middle School Principal

Aida Fraser-Hammer, Chief 

Watch Q13 Fox at 4. and 5 p.m. for more on this story.

SEATTLE — A student at Denny International Middle School says she was sexually assaulted in West Seattle’s Roxhill Park while walking home last Thursday.

She says she was attacked and raped by a man that appeared to be in his mid-20s.

RoxHillPark“Actually I used to go to Explorer West Middle School, which is right over there, and when I hear something like that, I think it’s extremely tragic and very upsetting to me,” student Mandalay Win said.

When the girl arrived at school Monday morning, she reported the incident to administrators, who called her parents and police.

“Well, it’s horrible.  I mean, this park has had some issues in the past anyway … I just found out about it today and picked up my daughter from school and talked to her and she said, ‘Oh yeah, we heard about that,’” parent Shelly Wardell said.

“We got a letter from Denny and (Chief) Sealth (International High School) because they are combined, so it just kind of explained what happened and some tips to stay safe when you are walking around,” student Emma Oosterman said.

Among those tips; plan your route to and from school, avoid shortcuts, never walk alone, stay alert, walk confidently and stick to well-lit areas.

So far police have no leads on a suspect, but an investigation is ongoing.

It’s just the latest scare involving students and parents in West Seattle, after several reports of a man or men exposing themselves to minors and an attempted abduction.

It has parents frustrated and scared, and some are thinking of making difficult decisions.

“We just talked about selling our house and relocating just because of all the crime that’s been happening in the West Seattle area. So between all the flashers — and there was a murder over in High Point this weekend — and this, so we’re thinking about moving out of the area,” Wardell said.

Police are asking members of the public that if they saw anything or anyone suspicious near Roxhill Park around 3:30 p.m. last Thursday to call 911.

SEATTLE — No one is behind bars for the series of indecent exposure incidents near schools that have troubled West Seattle for the past two months.

Last week, a man was arrested for performing a lewd act near Chief Sealth High School, but a misdemeanor charge was dropped Friday.

schoolThe dismissal appeared to boil down to a legal technicality.  The city of Seattle cannot charge anyone with misdemeanor indecent exposure, so it had to drop the case against the West Seattle man.

Police say a 17-year-old girl spotted the man fondling himself inappropriately and she told school officials, who called police. He was arrested later that day.

Starting Friday, Nov. 1, the city attorney will be able to prosecute misdemeanor indecent exposure cases, along with 30 other different offenses that are currently not in the city’s criminal code.  But the changes are coming too late to affect last week’s arrest.

“I understand the technicalities. However, with someone who has this kind of problem, it’s like someone on drugs or something. He could be compelled to do the same thing somewhere else,” said parent Sean O’Brien.

In the past two months, there have been seven reports of indecent exposure or lewd acts just in West Seattle. In most of the cases, a man sitting in a car exposed himself to young kids.

“That worries me, because I am thinking while I am at work working with other children, that some creep could be preying on my child,” said parent Jasmine Johnson.

Johnson was hoping the latest development was the big break this community desperately needed. The last thing she wanted to hear was that the only man arrested so far had a charge dropped agianst him and is free again.

“It’s troubling to know that he is out,” Johnson said.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office said they received the case Tuesday and they are in the process of reviewing it.

SEATTLE — A 34-year-old man was arrested for lewd conduct while sitting in a minivan Friday near Chief Sealth High School, police said.

Police identified him as Danen Romine, a West Seattle resident.

vanSince Sept. 10, there have been seven reports of men exposing themselves near schools in West Seattle.  The latest incident happened at 8:30 a.m. Friday near Chief Sealth High School, when a 17-year-old student said she caught the man in the act.

“She was about two blocks away from the school and she passed a van that was parked on the side of the street.  As she walked past she looked inside and saw a man masturbating.  She immediately ran to school, right to the principal’s office, and reported it,” said Seattle police detective Mark Jamieson.

The principal called 911 and police arrived within minutes, arresting the man who was still parked in his van in the same spot in the 2400 block of SW Thistle St.

“It’s scary because I come walking right by here all the time and I never expect anyone around the school to be doing sexual stuff.  That’s not right,” said student Angelica Solis.

Police aren’t sure yet if the man who was in this van is connected to any of the other recent flashings in West Seattle.  In three of the other incidents, the man was described being in a black four-door sedan.

With Halloween right around the corner, police plan to have plenty of officers on patrol and want parents and kids to be extra vigilant.

vanSEATTLE — Penny Stone loves playing outside in her West Seattle neighborhood with her two boys, but lately it’s been tough.

“There is just that edge all the time.  Do we have second thoughts about coming to the park? Yeah,” said Stone.

In the last month and a half, there have been seven reports of men exposing themselves near schools.  The latest incident happened at 8:30 a.m. Friday near Chief Sealth High School, when a 17 year-old student caught a man in the act.

“She was about two blocks away from the school and she passed a van that was parked on the side of the street.  As she walked past she looked inside and saw a man masturbating.  She immediately ran to school, right to the principal’s office ,and reported it,” said Seattle police detective Mark Jamieson.

The principal called 911 and police arrived within minutes, arresting a 34 year-old man who was still parked in his van in the same spot in the 2400 block of SW Thistle St., police said.

“It’s scary because I come walking right by here all the time and I never expect anyone around the school to be doing sexual stuff.  That’s not right,” said student Angelica Solis.

Police aren’t sure yet if the man who was in this van is connected to any of the other recent flashings in West Seattle.  In three of the other incidents, the man was described being in a black four-door sedan wearing no pants.

With Halloween right around the corner, police said they plan to have plenty of officers on patrol and want parents and kids to be extra vigilant.

We’ll have the latest on our news at 4:00 and 5:00.

SEATTLE — Police squad car lights and news vans are becoming a common sight in West Seattle after six reports of flasher or lewd conduct incidents near schools in recent weeks. Now, some parents say it’s time for them to get involved by taking shifts and staking out the elementary and middle schools.

“To have this many (incidents), it is bothersome,” parent Michael Nelson said Thursday night.

childs“As a parent, it’s concerning,” added parent Loren Wells.

“After the third or fourth (incident), it’s like, wow, regardless of her age, I really am going to have to pay attention,” parent Becky Patterson said.

Parents cannot get over the number of scares. Six confirmed reports so far at four different West Seattle Schools.  In most of these cases, a man exposed himself to middle-school girls.

“Prepare yourself for danger, perhaps; I’m sure the flasher is real. He is out there, but being afraid of it is optional,” parent Jen Giomi said.

Some parents say enough is enough, it’s time to mobilize instead of worrying.

“There has got to be a forum, so parents can work together,” said Wells.

They can no longer sit back and wait for an arrest. Some parents say they want to form a watch group that would take turns keeping an eye on area schools for flashers and potential predators.

“Have more of them on site, but not just at the schools, but throughout local areas,” said Patterson.

“Hope everyone can be vigilant,” said Wells.

Michael Nelson’s kids attend Hope Lutheran, where early this month a 10-year-old girl said she ran from a man who was trying to lure her into his car.

“The schools are all talking to each other; they know what’s going on,” Nelson said.

While the schools share information, parents like Nelson are holding their kids tight and asking all the right questions.

“We talk about it all the time now, so they are both aware,” Nelson said of her children.

With Halloween just around the corner, parents are even more on edge.

On Thursday afternoon, police officers responded to Gatewood Elementary School in the 4300 block of SW Myrtle Street after a 6-year-old student there reported she had seen a man abduct a girl and drive off in a pickup truck with her. But Seattle police said Thursday night that, while they were still investigating, they had found no evidence that a crime had been committed.

SEATTLE — It is unfortunate that a lot of parents and kids say their West Seattle neighborhood and school yards just don’t feel as safe as they once did.

“It’s really, really scary. My daughter was out here when it happened at Holy Rosary,” Jonathan French said Wednesday.

The latest incidents happened Tuesday afternoon.

westsideThe first, at 1:15 p.m., happened near The Westside School.

A group of girls were playing together when they saw the suspect sitting in a black four-door sedan, touching himself in an inappropriate manner.

They screamed and he drove away.

Then, just over an hour later, there was another incident.

Two 13-year-old girls were walking home from school, heading southbound on 45th Avenue SW approaching SW Andover Street. One girl saw a man with his car door open, wearing no pants and touching himself. The girls crossed the street and took out their cell phones and the man sped away.

Parents are now being even more vigilant than ever before.

“Picking up their kids after school, picking up other kids and dropping them off, just kind of keeping an eye out around lunch time, driving around the school, looking around to see if anyone looks suspicious,” French said.

This brings to six the number of incidents in West Seattle since Sept. 10.

Now comes Halloween — a very busy night with kids everywhere. And plans are being made for everyone to work together.

“We carry flashlights.  We stick together as a group and there’s a enough of us in our neighborhood.  There’s a lot of kids trick-or-treating in our neighborhood so there’s people out and about. So we’re pretty good,” parent Felicia Oh said.

“If my kid was trick or treating I’d be standing next to them the whole time. They wouldn’t be out of my sight and it’s just unfortunate that it has to be like this but I think until they get a handle on this there’s no other options,” French said.

“I’d like to say they shouldn’t be worried at all, but the reality is we have to look at common sense,” Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound Executive Director Myrle Carner said.

He knows how challenging Halloween night can be and he encourages parents to talk with their kids about what to do if they find themselves in trouble.

“Scream, kick, yell, run, do whatever you can to bring attention to the situation and, as soon as you can, call 911,” Carner said.

And as important, for parents and kids; be a good witness so you can help police.

“Remember what these individuals look like.  Was there any distinctive clothing? Was there any distinctive facial marks?  Did they talk with a certain brogue or these types of things? It’s very helpful to the cops to know what these individuals look like,” Carner said.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set white or Hispanic man in his 30s with short dark hair, scruffy facial hair, dark rim glasses and wearing a blue t-shirt. He was driving an older, black four-door sedan with small dents on the driver’s side and tinted rear windows.

SEATTLE — Families in West Seattle are on edge after a total of six flashing or lewd incidents near schools have been reported to police since early September.

These incidents have been happening so often lately, many schools are reaching out to safety experts for help and advice.

westsideKim Estes from Savvy Parents Safe Kids knows all about the dangers that young people face these days. Estes said Wednesday she’s holding five seminars in West Seattle in the coming weeks.

“I think this is the work of somebody who’s getting bolder and is really kind of wreaking havoc,” Estes said.

Seattle police are hunting for the men who flashed children near Madison Middle School and Westside School on Monday.

“We’re looking at probably the work of one or two people,” Estes said. “As adults, parents, citizens, we need to be talking to our kids about safety and reminding them to not approach a vehicle. If they feel like they’re being followed, make sure they have four, five or six homes and businesses that they can go to immediately and seek help.”

Carole Jacobson and her pug are making extra rounds in her neighborhood, staying on the lookout for anything suspicious

“We’re out at 6:30 in the morning, at noon, and at 3 in the afternoon,” said Jacobson. ”We’re doing extra walks to see if we can find this guy.”

Monday’s flashing incidents are just the latest in a string of lewd crimes that have occurred near schools in West Seattle since at least Sept. 10.

Estes said watchful parents need some safety tips, too.

“I always tell my parents, don’t go CSI, don’t go police-force on someone you don’t know, because you are not trained to handle it,” Estes said. “Sit back and observe. The best thing we have are the tools that we carry with us — our cell phones. Take a picture, immediately make a 911 call.”

Estes said parents need to continue talking to their kids about stranger dangers – but only ways that aren’t going to terrify children.

Meanwhile, neighbors in West Seattle vow to keep a close eye on each other – and anybody else wandering their streets.

“We’re very confused about why this is happening and that nobody has found this guy,” said Jacobson.

Estes is holding a workshop for parents to answer questions from parents and to offer advice. The meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5 — Election Day — at the Hope Lutheran School in West Seattle.

The workshop is free and open to the public.

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