September 17, 2004

Creeper Continues to Terrorize Collegetown

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This past Sunday’s incident involving a trespasser who invaded the room of a sleeping female in Collegetown is only the latest in a string of many such intrusions that have left the Cornell community unsettled for the past year.

Sunday’s incident brings the number of reported occurrences since September of 2003 to 16. In each case, a thin, white male between the height of 5’8″ and 6’0″ has entered the room of a sleeping female, or has attempted to gain entrance to the bedroom.

The Ithaca Police Department refused to comment on whether the Creeper was responsible for this past Sunday’s assault, in which a female student awoke as a strange man was fleeing her room. The incident was different from all past reports because her underwear had been cut, and a lubricant had been applied to her.

Joan Farbman of the Advocacy Center, a domestic violence counseling organization, said, “When you are dealing with abusive people –whether physical, emotional or sexual — they do escalate their behavior and that [escalating behavior] does not rely on how the victim reacts.”

Farbman added that this type of serial peeping tom behavior is not very common because a peeping tom will often act out in a way in which they will be caught promptly. Also, she said, many peeping toms only spy on one person, often an ex.

“He’s pretty careful,” Farbman said. “I don’t think he wants to be caught.”

Not much is known about the Creeper. He does not have a strict pattern to when and where he strikes, but there are similarities.

All of the incidents have been recorded on Linden Avenue, College Avenue and Catherine Street of Collegetown. This past Sunday’s incident took place on Stewart Avenue, contrary to initial the initial police statement.

He also always strikes in the early morning hours, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., and he usually strikes more than once in a night. There does not appear to be a pattern of time between occurences.

One victim, whose apartment was intruded twice last semester, recounted her experience to The Sun in a previous article.

“It was probably two in the morning, and my door to my bedroom was locked, and it sounded like somebody was running and bashing into my door, and trying to get the door open,” she said. “I’m yelling to the person, ‘Who is this?’ And they just kept saying, ‘It’s me, it’s me, just open the door.'”

When she tried to call the police, the intruder starting pulling on the wires that lead under the door. “It was really scary, but I actually called 911 and he must have heard that,” she said.

The Creeper almost always enters through unlocked windows or doors, and for this reason law enforcement and University officials emphasize the importance of locking one’s doors in Collegetown.

“I used to never lock my door or windows, but now I always make sure they’re locked,” said Collegetown resident Heather Grantham ’06.

She added, “I used to never be afraid when I was walking home at night, but now I catch myself looking around.”

The Advocacy Center hotline, Farbman said, will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 277-5000.

The IPD did not return The Sun’s calls in relation to this story but they are continuing the investigation and encourage anyone with information to call 272-3245.

Archived article by Michael Margolis
Sun Senior Writer