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Posted on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

Ann Arbor rapist prompts heightened security among women near campus

By Lee Higgins


This alley off of South State Street was the scene of a rape on July 18.

Emily Zinn looked out the window of her Ann Arbor apartment on South State Street early July 18 after hearing a woman crying hysterically. The woman was leaning against a wall, her knees tucked into her chest.

"Help me," the woman cried out. "Help me. He's gone. I'm all alone."

The 18-year-old woman had been dragged behind a wall and raped about 12:40 a.m. as she was walking down a driveway between two apartment buildings, Zinn said. The victim's friends rushed to her aid.

"It's awful," Zinn said. "It's scary. I felt horrible we couldn't have done something for her."

Zinn said her proximity to the victim — and the fact that she witnessed her pain afterwards — made her realize: it could have been her.

"All I had to do was walk out my front door."

That attack on South State was the fourth of 6 attacks on women in the city that have put those who live and spend time near downtown Ann Arbor on edge. Many have changed their behaviors to increase their chances that they may avoid an attack.

Zinn, 25, now carries mace.

"I don't go outside by myself at night," she said. "I'm just really, really cautious when I'm leaving the apartment."

University of Michigan student Matthew McAnelly was in bed, studying when he also heard the victim crying outside his apartment window after the attack.

“When I came outside, the parking lot was clear and the guy must have taken off," he said. "He’d apparently thrown her over the ledge. She was pretty hysterical."

Six women walking alone have been attacked since July 15. Police believe one or two men are responsible. In the latest attack, which occurred Tuesday in the same block on South State Street, a 21-year-old University of Michigan student retrieved something from her car about 11:30 p.m. and then was grabbed from behind and fondled by a man before breaking free.

A multi-jurisdictional work group has been set up to investigate the attacks, Ann Arbor police spokeswoman Lt. Renee Bush said this morning. The group comprises the Ann Arbor Police Department, University of Michigan Department of Public Safety, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department, Michigan State Police and FBI.

Melissa Johnson, 23, who is going to be a senior at U-M in the fall, said she doesn't think police are doing enough. Roughly 22 hours after the first rape, a woman was raped in an elevator in the Liberty Square parking garage.

"They should have more police or more security around the parking structures," she said. "I don't see increased police anywhere. As soon as it turns dark, I don't want to be outside."

Martha Fedorowicz, 21, who graduated from U-M in the spring, said she only walks on major roads now and doesn't go anywhere by herself at night.

"It's definitely really disheartening to have all these attacks in a place that's usually safe," she said.

Monica Ramswamy, 20, who is going to be a junior at U-M in the fall, lives near where the rape occurred on South State Street and was on her porch with friends when police flooded the area that morning. She also carries mace.

"I tend to travel with friends a lot more," she said. "I definitely feel more comfortable when I have a guy with me now."

Ann Arbor resident Cynthia Zirles said she’s requested not to work at night.

“I’m afraid of walking at night by myself, even just taking public transportation, going from public transportation to my apartment,“ she said.

Staff Reporter Juliana Keeping contributed to this report.

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at



Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 5 p.m.

My advice to all women and men: take a self defense class. I am currently enrolled in a martial arts/self defense class here in ann arbor (it may be advertised with a link on this it...). Since I have started my classes, I have learned some of the basic techniques to defend myself should the occasion arise. The strategies that are taught could be used in real, every day life. They should be introduced into every person's life, regardless of age or gender. Take advantage of the knowledge and skills being offered! Although my confidence has skyrocketed since beginning my classes, it is still necessary to take other safety precautions. Never walk alone, avoid dark alleys and streets, utilize whatever you have with you as a weapon of defense, and be aware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes and ears open to find any clues that could be used to catch the person(s) committing these crimes.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

An increased police presences won't help. It hasn't in the past and it won't now. We, as a community, need to band together and women need to change their behaviors radically when going outside after dark. Travel in pairs at night, don't wear high heels or other shoes or clothing that will impede your mobility. Be alert, don't drink too much and attempt to stumble home solo. Be smart. If you are attacked scream 'fire" at the top of your lungs and fight and scratch your way to freedom. Never surrender. This guy will be caught. A few years ago in Ypsilanti a friend of mine spotted and caught the serial rapist out there back in '98. No reason we can't catch this animal. AAPD, what's the reward for this guy?


Sun, Jul 31, 2011 : 9:06 a.m.

Delivered Pizza all night tonight downtown. For the most part, everybody is being very smart by walking in big groups and holding hands. Too bad the Police Sketches look like half the guys I work with.


Sun, Jul 31, 2011 : 3:58 a.m.

That victim's story is heart-rending. I can't imagine what kind of person it is that would make anyone suffer as this woman did. If AAPD needs any kind of volunteer work in their effort to apprehend this man (or these men): now's the time to speak up because I am ready and willing to help any way I can. I'm sure I'm not the only man who feels this way and who may have some capability that may help the police. (BTW - that's the opposite of vigilantism: I'm talking only about responding to police requests for any kind of citizen help.) Sincere condolences to all six victims. You are not alone and you have the prayers and best wishes of many people in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti community.


Sat, Jul 30, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

I hope that all people living in this area and have friends of the offenders age know that any person, no matter how, nice, friendly honest or law abiding they seem can have some disorder that could be responsible for this behavior. So be aware of anything unusual, like any signs of a struggle, torn clothing, bruises, etc may be an important piece of evidence for the police. One thing you hear a lot is, "I never thought (Dick, Jane etc) would have done this." And you never want to hear, "Doesn't surprise me," from someone who could have called in a tip.


Sat, Jul 30, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

"The only solution to the growing crime problem is to cut police, teacher and public employee benefits and, perhaps, another round of layoffs. The invisible hand of the free market will eventually prevail as entrepreneurs flood the lax security marketplace with ideas and innovation." -Gov. Rick Snyder speaking at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

@Kai, a search of the MCPP website using "Snyder" did not find the quotation cited. The original poster may have a better link. note: A quick history check of "timjbd" on facebook found the poster with the Wisconsin budget battle front and center on this person's page. Since this was an insert to a largely unrelated story, I think you have an "agenda" writer here.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Jul 31, 2011 : 4:35 a.m.

i apologize for my ignorance... but is that a real quote???


Sun, Jul 31, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

Yes, thanks for posting that revealing $nyder quote: "the invisible hand of the market place" - is sure showing "invisible results" these past 2-1/2 years. Let the RECALL PREVAIL - get rid of $nyder!


Sun, Jul 31, 2011 : 2:26 a.m.

Thank you for the quote. I'm sad that all who support that man STILL won't believe that he doesn't have our best interest at heart. To me, that quote pretty much sums up everything he believes in. How anyone can think he's doing positive things for our state is beyond me.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

I'm concluding that this attacker isn't very good with women and this guy "has to do this" like the crimeal would say........

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

It's about power, not women or sex. It is about control. He probably is a charmer, but clearly crazy.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

Don't walk alone late at night, avoid dark alleys/roads, be aware of your surroundings, have some basic self-defense skills. Those are common sense techniques that should be practiced by all. To even hit that womaen should be able to do what they want, walk where they want, and to blame sexual predators on all men or society, is wrong and potentially dangerous. Recommending that women be particularly careful at this time is a GOOD thing - no one is trying to restrict the freedoms of any women. Is trying to spread female equality worth a woman getting raped because she doesn't want to give up her "freedom" of walking alone at night? It is not only women that are at risk, but men are at risk of being robbed or assaulted as well. EVERYONE needs to practice common sense street skills for their own personal safety.


Sat, Jul 30, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

Best post yet, pest. The only thing I would add is that each person should pre-plan by contemplating, "...if this happens, this is what I will do." Some sort of pre plan may or may not work, because when an incident happens, often your thinking and reactions are disrupted by sudden unexpected circumstances. But it can't hurt to try to develop a plan. Whether or not a serial attacker is at work, it is a good practice to always be aware of your surroundings.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

The composite photos also resemble the guy in the video! It could be anyone...the sketches are so generic. Team up, ladies. Take back the night!


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Its nice to live in a fantasy world where nothing bad happens to good people but we don't so we need to be prepared at the city,state and federal level for bad people. Peace sounds nice but it is not going to stop this guy or any other bad guy in Ann Arbor,Michigan or the world!


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

I am sorry for the assault on the young woman near Ms. Zinn's home. However, I do hope that Ms. Zinn meant to say she carries pepper spray, it is illegal to possess mace....but the again I'd rather break that law than go through a vicious assualt.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

It's simple...there just aren't enough police to be everywhere at once.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

I live in Ypsilanti and I advise women EVERYWHERE to be even more cautious than usual - this guy, or guys, may move to another location to target their victims if they believe Downtown A2 has become too risky for them.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

Who ever is doing this is either not reading the newspapers or is taunting the police. Any male that fits the description walking around A2 at this point is going to be scrutinized with stealth by the police and FBI. It would not be wise for them to make their presence known. This is why we are not seeing police all over the place. I can guarantee that they are watching every corner and nook and cranny right now from strategic positions. If this guy strikes again he is going to get caught. It's just a matter of where and when.