A masked man broke into four unlocked homes south of the IU campus this week and — in two separate break-ins — attempted to sexually assault women.
The first break-in occurred Monday morning, and the latest three occurred Thursday morning in homes along or near South Henderson Street, according to the Bloomington Police Department.
Because the suspect did not flee in the direction of IU’s campus, IU students did not receive IU-Notify safety alerts, said Ken Long, IU-Bloomington Director of Emergency Management and Continuity.
In an interview with the Indiana Daily Student, an IU junior and roommate to one of the two attempted rape victims said the IU Notify protocol made her “livid.”
Had she and her roommates known about the initial Monday morning break-in, the Thursday attempted rape of her roommate could have been prevented, she said.
“These are all your students,” the roommate said inside her home Thursday, motioning toward South Henderson Street. “IU has the responsibility to protect IU students.”
The roommate, who asked to be anonymous, told the IDS her roommate’s account of the incident:
About 2 a.m. Thursday, a masked man entered their home at the corner of Second and Henderson streets through an unlocked door. He went into the victim’s room, where she slept.
He threatened to kill her with a gun if she did not take her clothes off. She screamed. He threw her phone underneath her bed and fled, yelling, “You’re a bitch,” before slamming the door.
The woman, home alone and not knowing where her phone was, ran across the street and used a neighbor’s phone. She called police, then contacted her parents and roommates.
The other three victims reported similar details. In all cases, a masked man entered their homes through unlocked doors and woke them up. In two cases, including this case, the man attempted rape.
The descriptions of the intruder match. He was described as a white man in his mid-to-late 20s, between 5-foot-11 and 6-foot-1, with a medium build.
It is not clear if the other three victims are IU students as well.
In the first break-in, at about 5 a.m. Monday morning, a masked man reportedly entered an unlocked apartment at Regency Court Apartments, near the corner of Henderson Street and Hillside Avenue.
A 20-year-old woman reported waking up on her couch when she felt a man touching her knee, according to a BPD press release.
The man told her to take off her clothes. She instead tried removing the man’s mask. He then pulled the victim’s hair before fleeing the apartment, according to the release. A roommate, who is a male IU student, was upstairs in the apartment at the time of the break-in.
Three days later, the IU student reported her break-in and attempted rape inside her home in the 500 block of East Second Street.
Around two hours after she made the report, at about 5 a.m., a third woman, 33, reported that a masked man broke into her home in the 1300 block of South Washington Street. She woke up to her dog barking and found the man outside her bedroom door. The man fled.
Shortly after, at about 6 a.m., a fourth woman, 22, reported that a masked man broke into her apartment inside Regency Court Apartments. The man crouched next to her bed. She screamed, and the man fled, according to the release.
BPD received a fifth off-campus report of a home invasion early this week. In a neighborhood just west of Memorial Stadium, on North Walnut Street, a woman reported an intruder broke into her home about 7 a.m. Monday, tied her up and raped her. BPD did not believe this case was related to the four break-ins south of campus, BPD Capt. Steve Kellams said.
As of Thursday, BPD had not identified suspects in any of the cases.
BPD does not have a system in place to notify IU students when crimes take place in heavily student-populated areas, IUPD Police Chief Laury Flint said.
“I know a lot of students feel that IU is responsible for their safety regardless of where they are, but we do have other law enforcement agencies that we work closely with,” Flint said. “Our primary area of concern is the campus.”
After spending hours at the BPD station, the mother of the IU student who was attacked Thursday morning walked her to her earliest IU class, around 9 a.m.
Throughout the day Thursday, the victim's roommate said she wondered whether or not students in her neighborhood even knew about the break-ins.
In her classes, she said she looked around at other students and wondered what off-campus horror they could have experienced that may have slipped IU Notify’s radar.
As of 4 p.m., IU had not tried to contact her or her roommates, she said.
Dominick Jean contributed reporting.
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.