An investigation into a sexual assault on a hiking trail in Canton Tuesday is progressing, police said Wednesday, even though they haven’t been able to talk to the victim.
Investigators Wednesday afternoon began narrowing down the possible places along the trail where the reported crime may have taken place, Canton police Sgt. Derek Messier said.
“We’re definitely making headway today,” he said.
Police received a report Tuesday from a woman who said an acquaintance had been sexually assaulted near the Farmington River Trail between Canton Springs Road and Atwater Road. The assault happened earlier in the day, around 11 a.m., the woman reported to police.
Detectives went to the area Tuesday evening to see if they could find the suspect or any evidence, and police returned to the area Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the victim had not talked to police.
“The victim did not want to come forward,” Chief Christopher G. Arciero said.
Through the third party, police suggested that the victim go to the hospital to get checked out and consider talking to police. Police have not been able to pinpoint a crime scene, the chief said.
“We hope the victim will feel empowered to come forward, and we are ready and willing to be there to support her and get the facts to further our thorough investigation of the incident,” he said. He said an officer was on the trail Wednesday, stopping visitors and asking if they had witnessed anything.
Police also issued warnings on Facebook to hikers and bikers, saying they should always be aware of their surroundings and not be alone on the popular trail, which connects Canton Springs Road and the Farmington River.
The trail was unusually quiet Wednesday afternoon, according to two employees who work at the nearby generator supply company. They said they walk the trail almost every day.
Their trip Wednesday started out a bit differently when they heard the news that police were investigating a report of a sexual assault in the area.
“It’s strange,” East Haddam resident Tom Prask said. “I wouldn’t think this would happen in an area like this.”
Prask joined his Tower Generator co-worker Alex Wislocki of Bristol for the afternoon walk.
“As a father of two daughters, my heart really goes out to her,” Wisloki said. “You always think something like this wouldn’t happen in your neighborhood, but it does.”
According to the two men, the trail is usually heavily populated, especially in the afternoon.
“It’s pretty shocking especially in an area like this where people are always around,” Prask said.
The suspect is described as a white male, about 30 years old, between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a slender to medium build. He was wearing a gray shirt and black shorts, Arciero said. He may have had a small dog with him, police said.