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Shortly after the Friday, Jan. 10, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News went to press late Thursday, Jan. 9, we received word from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office that a woman had been sexually assaulted by an unidentified suspect in Oak Creek Canyon on Jan. 8.

The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office released this sketch of sexual assault suspect Friday, Jan. 10. The suspect is described as a white male, mid to late 40s, with medium-length dark hair, a scraggly dark beard and moustache. He was last seen wearing brown pants with side pockets, a dark-colored sweat shirt and cowboy boots. If you see or know someone matching this description, call the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office at (928) 774-4523 or toll free at (800) 338-7888 or Silent Witness at (928) 774-6111.While it was too late to place the news item in our newspaper, we did post it immediately on our website in the hopes that if the suspect was still in Sedona or the Verde Valley, potential witnesses would quickly be alerted and come forth.

Late Friday, toward the end of our work day, CCSO Public Information Officer Gerald Blair sent us a composite sketch drawn by forensic artist from the Tucson Police Department.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamWe immediately posted the sketch on our website as well as our Facebook page, both of which have registered thousands of hits, hopefully leading to a swift identification and arrest.

 

Although not so much in Sedona, relationships between police and journalists are sometimes adversarial by nature. Detectives want more time, we reporters want more facts. Officers investigating crimes want to be tight-lipped to avoid tipping their hand during an investigation or letting out details that could later be used by defense attorneys to get suspects off charges. Meanwhile, reporters want details and official quotes we can print by deadline to best inform our community about a crime.

When word of a crime spreads around a small community, we sometimes can’t get official confirmation immediately due to an ongoing investigation. Witnesses and passersby also sometimes spread the word about what they saw or heard that may not be entirely accurate, further complicating matters for both law enforcement and journalists.

However, when law enforcement needs help finding a suspect of a crime as horrendous as a sexual assault, the skill sets of cops and journalists converge. Officers and deputies can distribute flyers and go door to door, but newspapers and media outlets can spread the word through our publications, websites and online social networks, aiding the investigation.

We hope that in the case of this sexual assault, these combined efforts will help bring this suspect to justice. For the victim’s sake, show copies of this newspaper to friends and acquaintances in hopes that they may recognize the suspect and contact police. Visit our website and repost the link from it or our Facebook page to your own. If you recognize the suspect or have any details about the crime, contact police.

Detectives would rather have too many leads than not enough, especially the one solid lead that results in an identification, arrest and conviction.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor


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