A 14-year-old girl was raped by two men who abducted her on the way to school and subjected to a horrific ordeal lasting nearly four hours.
The young girl was grabbed in a bear hug at a busy junction in an upmarket area of Oxford by two men who bundled her into a car at around 8.25am as she walked to school.
Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Ward said that both men raped the girl and he believed at least one of the attacks took place in the car, a silver hatchback that may have been a VW.
The girl, who goes to a fee-paying school in the area, escaped and was found a mile away at midday, frantically knocking on doors on residential street.
The girl was ‘traumatised’ when she was found, DS Ward said today, so it has been difficult to ‘tease’ a better description of the attackers while she remains ‘extremely distressed and upset’.
They are now appealing for information from anyone who may have seen the car near where the girl was taken from the Summerstown area.
Appealing for witnesses, DS Ward said: ‘There is a possibility that she was actually hugged so it may of course look like an innocent gesture as opposed to being dragged into a vehicle.’
Specially trained officers are still questioning the girl, which is a ‘long process’, and currently all they know about the men is that they are white and are thought to be local, he added.
She was taken from a spot just a mile away from where a 19-year-old-girl was sexually assaulted a few days ago on a dark path in Headington in the early hours of the morning.
DS Ward said they are not currently treating the incidents as linked but are still at an early stage of the investigation.
Police in boiler suits and gloves were seen combing woodland for clues less than 500ft from where the girl was found sitting, distraught and shocked, on a low brick wall.
They carried samples in brown evidence bags out of the bushes in the cordoned off field next to a footbridge over a stream. It is believed the victim may have passed over it as there was a second cordon on the other side.
When asked about the crime scene, an officer standing guard said: ‘The picture you see says it all.’ It is believed she staggered out of the wooded area and onto Cavendish Drive.
Officers have stepped up patrols in the area where she was taken and have advised children to travel in groups and stay in highly visible areas.
It’s been described locally as ‘a parents’ worst nightmare’ and police called the horrendous attack ‘a concerning incident’.
An eye-witness told how he saw the abducted schoolgirl victim sitting alone on a wall for almost an hour after she had managed to flee her attackers.
The 50-year-old builder said the victim was sat on the low wall in front of homes opposite scaffolding where he was working.
The man, who asked not to be named, said that the girl was sitting alone for up to an hour using her mobile phone at around midday.
Two men, believed to be police officers in plain clothes, then joined the girl, who was wearing a school uniform.
Another man and a woman joined them and an ambulance was called shortly afterwards, said the workman.
He added: ‘I saw her sitting on the wall. I think she was using her phone, calling someone. It could have been up to an hour that she was sitting there.
‘I just thought she had just bunked off school and the men were teachers who were trying to coax her back. Then the ambulance arrived and took her away.’
He said: ‘The ambulance arrived within minutes and the schoolgirl was taken away quickly.’
Manual labourer Alex Wood, who was working on Cavendish Drive, said: ‘We were working and we saw the girl there. She was in uniform.
‘We didn’t really pay much attention until the ambulance rapid response car turned up.
‘We’ve been here about five weeks and it always seemed like a nice area – very quiet.’
Police forensics officers are currently scouring the road for clues.
Emrys Harris, who has lived there since 1962, said: ‘This was always regarded as a safe area. It’s terrible for that to happen around here – it’s normally a very quiet area.’
A local politician said officers now need to ‘reassure the community’ after the attack – which police are describing as a ‘serious sexual assault’.
Oxfordshire County councillor for St Margaret’s ward, John Howson, said he had been in touch with schools in the area to offer assistance.
He said: ‘There is an urgency for the police to reassure the community. Clearly it is good advice to walk in groups but that is not always possible.
‘My view is that if I can help the schools in any way I will do so.’
Superintendent Christian Bunt, local policing commander for Oxford, said: ‘I appreciate that it must be very concerning for the public.
‘In light of this we are stepping up patrols in the area to provide reassurance and there will be a very visible police presence whilst the investigation continues.’
He added: ‘I would ask parents to consider the safety of their children and if they are walking to school make sure they try to keep in groups.
‘I would also ask people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious’.
Shocked locals described the abduction as ‘every parents’ worst nightmare’ and said more people were driving their kids to school this morning than usual.
Val Heigink, 52, a receptionist at a hotel close to where the girl was abducted from said the area was usually very busy and safe.
The mother-of-two, who has a son, 19, and daughter, 14, said: ‘It is crazy – totally crazy. It is very safe around here and at half eight in the morning is very busy.
‘It is very strange to hear this has happened. It’s horrible – totally terrible. People around here will be so shocked. I’m shocked.
‘It’s every parents’ worst nightmare. I’m speechless.’
A worker at nearby Summertown Cycles said the roads were busier yesterday.
The man, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I don’t know if it is due to the rain perhaps, but it is quieter on the pavements and there are more cars.
‘It could be parents driving their children to school rather than letting them walk. It is usually a very safe area. It is shocking.’
Schools in the local area are warning children to take extra care.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Steel of TVP Major Crime Unit, said: ‘This happened in what would have been a very busy area at this time of the day and I appeal to anybody who was in that area…and saw an incident which matches the above report to call police immediately.
‘It is possible you may have witnessed this incident and may not have realised the severity of the situation. We are currently supporting the victim with specially trained officers.’
The abduction comes three days after another teenager was sexually assaulted by two white men – just over a mile away.
A 19-year-old woman was walking along a footpath in nearby Headington, when she was attacked between 1.40am and 2.10am on Sunday.
The first offender was described as white, in his late teens to early twenties, about 6ft 2ins tall, with a broad, muscular build.
He was wearing a gold signet ring on his left hand.
The second man was also white and aged in his late teens or early twenties, had a broad or fat build, blonde short hair, was clean shaven and wore black jeans.
Laura Oakes, from Oxford CID, said: ‘We are carrying out a full and thorough investigation into this incident, which we believe to be isolated.
Although incidents such as this are rare in this area, I would like to advise people against walking alone at night and to try to stick to routes which are well lit.’
In March, police issued an appeal for information following an attempted child abduction in Abingdon, some eight miles from the latest attack.
A man attempted to grab a 12-year-old girl as she walked to school, police said.
The youngster managed to escape the incident, at around 8.15am on March 3, by kicking the man and sprinting to safety.
Dave Waggott, 63, who lives nearby, said at the time that he was not surprised to hear about the would-be abduction.
He said: ‘It’s not the first time it’s happened. We have had a few incidents of flashers reported by the police. I feel safe walking round here but then I’m not a little girl.’
Thames Valley Police launched an appeal for information.
The suspect was described as a white man with a tan, in his 30, who was approximately 6ft tall and of large build.