One man may be responsible for slashing at least five women on the butt, according to Fairfax County police.
In the most recent attack, an 18-year-old woman was shopping at Forever 21 inside the Fair Oaks Mall at 5:30 p.m. Monday when she was distracted by clothing falling over. She told police that she suddenly felt a sharp pain in her butt and thought she might have been struck by a clothes hanger before she realized she'd been cut through her denim shorts with a box cutter or razor.
News4 spoke with one of the attack victims, you can read her story here.
The attacks began in February. In each attack, the victims have been women in their late teens or early 20s at retail stores. In each case, the stabbing follows some sort of distraction.
Before the victim realizes what has happened, the attacker has calmly walked away without creating a scene, police said.
In one incident, the victim was inside the mall but in the open area, not inside a store, when the slasher bumped into her to distract her, News4's John Schriffen reported.
"Because it's such an unusual thing, no one would ever expect something like that to occur," said Lucy Caldwell, of Fairfax County police. "They may be walking along and put their hand to their backside and feel it."
Before the Forever 21 attack, the most recent slashing happened at the Marshall's in the Greenbriar Shopping Center on June 20.
Two other attacks have been reported at Fair Oaks Mall and the other took place at the H&M at Tysons Corner.
None of the victims suffered serious injuries or required stitches, Schriffen reported. Monday's victim had a wound about an inch-and-a-half long.
According to Fairfax police, the suspect is desribed as Hispanic, in his late 20s, approximately 5'6'' in height, and heavy-set.
"We don't have any information as to why this would be occurring, any type of motive, but we also, unfortunately, don't have any reason to think that it would stop," Caldwell said.
Former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary told InsideNova.com that the attacker likely won't stop until he's caught and police will look back for similar crimes in the past.
Criminal profiler Ted Williams, who spent almost 15 years as a D.C. police investigator and a federal special agent, said the slasher's criminal pattern closely resembles the D.C. sniper's from almost 10 years ago.
"The one common thread is normally they want some kind of attention," he said.
"He is at least slashing these young women and then he's trying to determine what their reactions are, and as a result of their reactions, he gets his own high from doing it," Williams added.
Anyone with information about the case should call police at 703-691-2131 or Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS/8477. Or you can submit tips by texting TIP187 plus your message to 274637 or online.
Fairfax County police released this surveillance image of the man Tuesday: