EDGEWATER — A former Loyola University student was the victim of a brazen daytime sexual assault when she was forced by the neck from a bus stop bench at a busy intersection into a nearby alley, authorities said.
Neighbors and people who work nearby were amazed that the 22-year-old woman could have been assaulted at 2 p.m. Thursday without anyone stepping in to help.
"I can't believe nobody heard or saw anything," said Lucas Conner, 30, who waits tables at the nearby Deluxe Diner. "We notice everything. We see every drunk that falls asleep on the [bus stop] bench. We see every fight" on the street.
The diner's windows face the bus stop shelter in the 6300 block of North Clark Street, while its well-traveled kitchen door leads to a parking lot and the alley where police said the woman was assaulted and robbed of her credit card and cellphone.
He wasn't working Thursday, but said "nobody saw anything, nobody heard a girl scream.
"If anyone would have seen something, we'd have called the police at the very least — 2 p.m. on probably the busiest intersection in the neighborhood, that's really bold," he said.
Police described the assailant as a 5-foot-8, 300-pound black man of medium complexion with short black hair. He was wearing a white striped polo shirt and blue jeans. A sketch of the attacker was released by police Tuesday morning.
He sat next to the woman who was waiting for the bus, police said, then forced her into the tangle of alleys behind the diner that connects West Highland and Devon avenues with North Clark Street.
Maeve Kiley, a spokeswoman for Loyola University, confirmed the victim had been a student but hadn't enrolled in classes in the last year.
After the attack, the woman went to a nearby hospital, police said.
The area is a mix of residential and commercial buildings. Several restaurants dispatch delivery vehicles from the alleys.
The 1500 block of West Highland Avenue is full of mostly single-family homes. On a Monday afternoon, kids rode scooters and played on the street's sidewalks.
"Everyone is on high alert right now," said Halen Parisi, 32, who sat on his front porch while his kids played.
He said he had lived on the block his whole life. After moving out of his mother's home, he bought the house next door, where he lives with his wife and their two daughters, ages 8 and 4.
"I'm shocked," he said. "That alleyway is full of delivery drivers, and they're flying through there all day long."
Nancy Crawford, Parisi's mother, has lived on the block for 34 years. She said it has always been very safe and she was quite surprised to hear about the assault.
"It's so amazing to me. This is a busy alley," she said.
Marisol Flores, 40, has worked at North Clark Dental Center, next door to the diner, for 13 years as a dental assistant.
Since police released details of the incident, she said her friends have been telling her to be careful walking to her car when she leaves work.
Like others, she couldn't remember the last time a crime like this had been committed in the neighborhood.
"I get kind of scared," she said while standing in the doorway to the dentist's office. "For now, I'm going to lock the door."
Police asked anyone with information about the assault to call 312-744-8261.
Emily Morris contributed to this report.