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News Nearby: Attack in Beaver County Raises Question of Connection to Ross Sex Assaults

Police in Hopewell Township are investigating a sexual attack that also took place Saturday morning that has some similarities to the attacks in Ross. Ross Township police said they cannot confirm that the attacks are related.

Hopewell Township police in Beaver County are investigating a sexual assault reported early morning Saturday, Jan. 7, that they say may be connected to two recent sexual attacks in Ross Township. 

Ross Township investigators were made aware of the incident over the weekend and are looking into the similarities, spokesman Sgt. Benjamin Dripps said. 

But, "we can't confirm that they are related," he said. 

According to information released by Hopewell Township police, a  on Westfield Drive reported that she was assualted by a  in her townhome shortly after 7:45 a.m. Saturday. 

She said she left the home and then returned, went upstairs, and heard a noise from the lower level. She said she went to a bannister overlooking steps in her home and saw a man pointing a handgun at her. She told police she was pushed into her bedroom and sexually assaulted. 

The man demanded  before the assault, she told police. 

She described the man as black, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of husky build and said he was wearing a blue jacket, black pants and a dark ski mask and gloves.

The age of the  is not being released, nor is information about what the woman was doing before she returned to her house.

The two Ross Township  who were sexually assaulted, one Saturday morning and the other Monday morning, were both attacked after walking their dogs. Both women are in their mid-twenties and lived in apartment complexes, according to Ross Township police. 

The attack Saturday in Ross happened at about 9:30 a.m. in the Woodhawk Club Apartmentscomplex on Johanna Drive, off of McKnight Road — about a 40-minute drive from the incident reported to have occurred after 7:45 a.m. in Hopewell Township that same morning. 

The attack Monday in Ross happened at about 6 a.m. in the secluded Cascades Apartment complex, which is on East West Drive, tucked off Cemetery Lane within a 100-acre wooded setting. 

Ross Township Police have said the Ross Township victims do not have any apparent connection to their attacker, and that the attacks seem to be random. 

A home invasion reported Monday in the Franklin Park area also is not believed to be connected to the attacks in Ross, police said. 

Ross Police are searching for a suspect described as a black man in his mid-40s. They said he was wearing dark jeans; a dark, Nike hooded and zippered sweatshirt with a red Michael Jordan logo; and a dark knit cap or mask rolled up on his head. 

Police are also searching for a dark blue Ford Expedition XLT that a witness saw leave the Woodhawk Club Apartment complex Saturday driven by a man matching the description of the suspect. Video cameras on McKnight Road  captured images of that vehicle minutes after the suspect was believed to have left the apartment complex, Dripps said. 

The Expedition is believed to be a newer model, possibly manufactured in 2009, and might have damage to the driver's side door. It is a regular-length SUV, Dripps said.

Police were continuing the investigation into the attacks Tuesday, Dripps said, and placing extra patrols in the areas of the township's 25 apartment complexes.

Ross police said they received many tips on Monday. 

One man who lives in the Cascade Apartment complex said he believes he saw a man in the area on Thursday who matches the description of the suspect that police released.

"He looked like he was casing the area out," said Dennis Calhoun, who lives on North South Drive. Calhoun said he didn't think much about it at the time, but after learning of the attack Monday decided to report what he saw. 

He said he and his neighbors were feeling hypervigilant Monday night.

"Everybody is a little bit jumpy," he said. 

A flier alerting neighbors to the danger has been sent throughout the community. Neighbors are being asked to keep their porch lights on at night. 

Brandy Carothers, property manager of the Cascades Townhomes and Apartments, declined to be interviewed. 

The apartment complex is tucked off Cemetery Lane in Ross Township, within a 100-acre wooded setting. 

While they were at the apartment complex Monday, police made an arrest after serving an outstanding warrant, but they said that arrest was not related to the assault case.

A 15-minute North Hills School District lockdown Monday also was not related to the search for the man involved in the attacks on the two women. 

A young boy home alone in a nearby house on Rochester Road reported at about 11:30 a.m. that someone was breaking into the house. Police searched the home and surrounding area but found no evidence of a break-in and made no arrests.

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