FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – Police are desperately searching for clues that may lead them to the I-65 attacker.
On Tuesday they were combing the tree line where they said a man attempted a sexual assault.
Investigators say the man attacked a 16-year-old girl while she was waiting on the side of the interstate for her dad, after getting a flat tire Sunday night.
“This was one of those cases that was truly an out of character crime of opportunity,” Lieutenant Charles Warner with Franklin Police told News 2.
A flat tire landed the victim on the side of I-65 just before the McEwan Drive exit. Police say the teen was waiting for help underneath a light pole when she says the man approached her from behind, covered her mouth and began dragging her down into a ditch. She told police her feet ended up getting tangled up in some roots and that’s ultimately how she was able to break free.
“That kind of caused some resistance when the man was dragging her. He had to uncover her mouth and at that point she began screaming for help. So the fear probably overtook him that her screams would be heard and that somebody would come to her aid, so he let her go and he ran back into the woods and disappeared,” Warner explained.
Police are looking into a number of theories. One is that someone passed her on the interstate and then pulled into the Sams parking lot which backs up to the wooded area. Another is that the man was already in the tree line.
“We are certain that he was going to sexually assault this girl, there is no doubt. It is troubling to us, it is troubling to the community.”
Shoppers at Sams say it’s terrifying, “I think it’s horrendous, it’s awful” a woman told News 2, adding that it is proof fighting back can pay off. “Brave, powerful young girl. I have to say she was very brave,” she said.
While the teen recovers from minor physical injuries, police are using all of their resources, determined to catch her predator.
“This is something that we are going to run at hard until there is nowhere else to look. We want to do everything we can to get this predator identified and off the street,” Lt. Warner explained.
Investigators described the man as a tall white male with dirty brown teeth and a medium build. He is believed to be in his late 30s to early 40s. He has a “dirty-blonde” beard and looked like he had not shaved his face in several days. He is believed to be about 6 feet tall.
Anyone with information is urged to call Franklin Police at 615-794-2513.