Woman assaulted while jogging on W&OD Trail in Sterling

A woman was assaulted while jogging on the W&OD Trail in Sterling early Monday. (WJLA photo)

STERLING, Va. (WJLA) – Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputies are searching for a man who assaulted a woman while she was jogging on the W&OD Trail in Sterling early Monday.

Shortly after 7 a.m., the victim was knocked to the ground from behind and assaulted near Oakgrove Road, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

The attacker is described as a 200-pound, 5-foot-6-inch-tall Hispanic man with short black hair and a muscular build. He wore dark clothing and was last seen heading east on the W&OD Trail, toward Fairfax.

It is unclear whether the attacker had been following the victim, or if he entered the trail from one of the multiple footpaths leading from the woods.

“That’s kind of scary,” said runner Mihaela Pamukchieva. “I try to run when it’s daylight … I’m really shocked. This seems like a really safe area to me.”

The stretch of trail near Oakgrove Road is a popular site for runners and cyclists; it also sits right off a cluster of homes, and the attack has left neighbors on edge.

“I’m really surprised,” said resident Bhagwan Jagdiani. “This is very safe area, but we have to be very careful.”

John Shafer says his wife runs on the trail every morning; now the couple may have to rethink that plan.

“Obviously, anyone would have a second thought, now,” he said. “But it hasn’t been a problem in the past, so we’ll have to talk about it.”

Witnesses and anyone who has information regarding the suspect’s identity is urged to contact Detective J.S. Chichocki, of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, at 703-737-8481.