Authorities have released a sketch of a man suspected of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman along Interstate Hwy. 35 south of Duluth late at night last week after the victim stopped to help him with what she thought was a disabled pickup truck.
The attack occurred between 10:05 and 11:05 p.m. on Feb. 3 along the shoulder of I-35 near Esko, according to the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office.
The woman pulled over after seeing that the pickup driver had pulled over. “The male proceeded to both physically and sexually assault her,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
On a website seeking contributions to help the woman recover and cope after the attack, the victim is described as a single mother, a college student studying law enforcement and a member of the military.
On the Web page, at www.gofundme.com/lydiew, the woman explained that she was raised by “a very supportive family that has always taught me the value of helping others, and to ‘fill my bucket’ by never passing up an opportunity to lend a helping hand.”
“He … greeted me with a smile,” she continued, describing the pickup driver. “Being in the military, I am trained to sense things in people that just doesn’t seem right … [but] nothing specific” raised any red flags, she wrote.
As she recovers from being “sexually assaulted on the side of the highway, at night, and left for dead,” the woman said in the posting, she is unable to work, and her vehicle and cellphone were taken as evidence in the investigation.
“I am here to say that he was wrong,” she added. “He did not win … I won … I survived, and I am here to show you my strength and to show others that you can come out stronger in the end.”
The fund has collected roughly $3,300 as of Wednesday evening toward a goal of $10,000.
“[She] is an amazing strong young woman who, with kindness in her heart, stopped to help a vehicle on the side of the road,” said the fund’s initiator, Jacque Sumida, a family friend and therapist specializing in sexual abuse victims.
The suspect is described as white, in his late 20s to early 30s, medium build, with a short beard and short brown hair. He was wearing a Carhartt hooded sweatshirt, bluejeans and black work boots. The suspect’s pickup is described as a black 2003 Ford F-150, with black matte paint.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call Carlton County authorities at 1-218-384-9520.