Possible new information on suspect in Smokies sex assault case
The sketch of the suspect (source: National Park Service)
GATLINBURG (WATE) - Investigators have released new information as they seek to identify a person of interest in a rape and stabbing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A man raped a 44-year-old woman and stabbed her several times on June 8 on the Gatlinburg Trail.
The National Park Service released the suspect's sketch and a wanted poster on June 11.
Investigators say a local couple saw a man on the Gatlinburg Trail a week ago, Wednesday, and again last Friday, near the time of the attack whose appearance and dress match the suspect's.
The unknown man made statements to the couple that suggest he's a roofer.
The man is thought to drive a full-size, dark blue or black standard-cab pickup truck.
Chief Ranger Clay Jordan emphasizes that it's not known if this man is actually the assailant or whether he told the truth about his occupation.
A man who frequently uses the Gatlinburg Trail said this isn't something he expected to happen in the park. "It's a little nuts," said Pete Horne, of Gatlinburg. "I trail run on that and come out here and walk and bike and stuff and it's usually really calm. You hardly ever see people. I mean, people use it, but there's not a lot of craziness going on."
The suspect is described as white, appearing to be in his 40s, with a dirty-blonde crew-cut and glasses. He's thin and stands about 5' 9".
At the time of the attack, he wore black dress pants and a gray T-shirt. He also has multiple tattoos, including one described as a word tattooed across his stomach.
Anyone with information about this man's identity should call the tip hotline at 865-436-1580.
The National Park Service is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant.