Jogger fights off rape attempt at Metropark; police arrest suspect
HURON TWP., Mich. (WJBK) - A female jogger viciously attacked at a local Metropark - now a suspect is in custody.
Tuesday afternoon Jan Schaffer heard someone screaming for help, then the 26-year-old woman was at her door.
"She was yelling help me, help me and then banging on the door," Schaffer said. "She was all bloody, her left eye was swollen, her nose was real big.”
The woman had been out jogging in the Oakwoods Metropark in Huron Township when police say Darien Fickling, 47, of Huron Township who was riding on his bike, and attacked her.
"He comes up from behind and puts his arm around her neck and begins to hit her in her facial area," said Chief Everette Robbins, Huron Twp. Public Safety Department. "The two of them go to the ground. At that point he begins telling her not to fight and that he's going to kill her. He then tells her that he is going to sexually assault her. And attempts to sexually her."
The woman fought back, refusing to be a victim, kicking and screaming and squirming away from the attacker.
She escaped and ran down the trail to a dirt road. Fortunately there are a few houses here and Schaffer was home and willing to help.
But at first she was afraid to let the woman inside.
"She was really scared about him following her and when I got my phone I grabbed my gun," Schaffer said. "I threw this in my pocket and then I had my phone.
I said 'Honey - the police are coming and I have my gun.'"
Huron Township police and Metropark police arrived and quickly tracking down the suspect who had stolen the victim's phone and still had it, when they made the arrest.
"Fortunately for us we had two very experienced Metropark officers who knew their trails and knew where this gentleman might be," Robbins said. "Within 19 minutes we had him in custody."
Now police praising the victim.
"She's our real hero," Robbins said. "She found herself in everyone's worse nightmare and was able to fight him off, she was able to not give up. She knew her surroundings, knew where houses were at and she was able to find somebody for help. My hat is off to her.
"Without her bravery and without her fight we could be telling a much different story today."
Instead Fickling is charged with robbery, and assault, with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. He'll be arraigned on Thursday.