Edinburgh manhunt as detectives create a full DNA profile of sex attacker
A sex attacker who struck twice in the southwest of the city targeted a teenager years earlier, detectives have revealed.
Police confirmed that a man who carried out a rape and sexual assault against two young women six years ago had struck in the area in 2012 – strangling a teenager who was walking home after a night out.
Brave Jenna Pike spoke about her ordeal as Police Scotland revealed a DNA breakthrough had identified the same man was responsible for all three incidents.
Jenna - who was just 16 at the time - fought her attacker off and it was initially reported as an assault to the then Lothian and Borders Police.
But developments in DNA technology, which allows identification from much smaller samples, allowed detectives to create a full DNA profile of the perpetrator.
Under Special Operation Corwin detectives have now launched a fresh appeal in their hunt for the attacker who is feared to be 'an escalating sex offender' after he moved from assault to sexual assault to rape.
Three years after Jenna was attacked a 21-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in Craiglockhart Quadrant on 5 August 2015.
Over three weeks later, a 19-year-old woman was raped in the Newmills Road area after a man claiming to have a knife forced her into a field beside Newmills Road, in Balerno, at around 12.20am on Thursday, August 27. Shortly before this, she had stepped off a bus in Lanark Road West.
After seeing renewed investigation into the 2015 attacks Miss Pike was struck by details of the incidents and contacted police again to see if they could be linked to her horrific attack.
Officers believe the suspect either lived in or had significant links to the Craiglockhart community and have sent thousands of letters out today to residents in the area urging them to come forward with any information.
Speaking to the Evening News Ms Pike, 25, said:
“I was walking home after a night out and was suddenly aware of someone behind me. He grabbed me, spun me round and pushed my arms tight into my chest. He put his hands round my neck and squeezed. I almost blacked out but tried to fight him off. He stopped and walked off. I think I was lucky, I don’t know what made him stop. What struck me was his hands, it was the only thing I could really see because he had a hood up over his face. I was shaking after and couldn’t stop crying.
"After it happened I always got taxis home and if I couldn’t afford it or get a lift I just didn’t go out. I kept thinking what could I have done differently, but we shouldn’t need to think like that. It’s worrying and so sad that he went on to commit more serious, sexual attacks on other women.
"I tried to move on with my life but I still never walk alone at night. Even in the daytime I’m constantly looking behind me. I think it never really left me, it’s a deep down trauma.
"I know so many girls who think twice about walking home alone. My pals parents would say to them, remember what happened to Jenna. We shouldn’t have to feel scared or worried just going home. Men don’t seem to acknowledge the scale of the problem, but they hold the key. I hope friends of this man who might know or suspect something about him will come forward.”
Ms Pike, who runs a beauty salon, has also called for tougher sentencing for perpetrators of violence and sex crimes.
She added: "I want closure for me and these other women. He might need help but I do want him to pay the price for what he’s done. For me I’ve lived for nine years looking back every step I take. I think we need harsher penalties for violence against women. It would propel victims to come forward. They would feel they could trust they might justice.”
The suspect was described at the time as being a white male, in their 20s or 30s, of slim or athletic build, with slightly longer than average hair between their ears and shoulders.
Detective Inspector Jon Pleasance, the investigating officer for the renewed inquiries said:
“Using advanced DNA technology we’ve been able to review the forensics from Jenna’s case and determine that these attacks are all linked.
“It’s incredibly concerning that the man responsible was targeting lone women as far back as 2012, especially given what we know now. It is a concern that the crimes escalated and equally striking that they stopped after three offences.
“It leads me to believe, due the proximity of these incidents, that the answer may very well lie in the local community.
"From interviews with the victims we believe this man is someone that was regularly out walking alone at night in the Craiglockhart area. He is also someone who has poor communication skills, could be awkward or reclusive. It’s important that if a neighbour, friend or relative has the slightest nagging doubt about someone they know to get in touch. We have the golden nugget of the DNA profile so can quickly eliminate people.
“Anyone who can help is strongly asked to come forward, no matter how small the information or their concerns may seem. We have the ability to very quickly rule people out of our investigation.”
Those with information can contact Police Scotland via 101 quoting incident number 0770 of 1 March, 2021, or pass tips anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.