KIRKWOOD, MO (KPLR) - It sounds like something out of a horror film: a young woman, washing her hands in the bathroom sink, suddenly looks in the mirror and sees a stranger behind her, who grabs her and starts to strangle her.
Unfortunately, a freshman at St. Louis Community College – Meramec lived this nightmare.
Nineteen year-old Blythe Grupe was in class in the Communications North building on campus when she got up to use the restroom. Moments later, she was attacked.
This happened Thursday morning, and now she’s thankful to be alive.
“He kinda sneaked past me and stood behind me, and just grabbed me,” Grupe recalls.
As he covered her mouth with one hand and put her in a headlock with the other, Grupe says he was whispering for her to be quiet. Still, the college freshman managed to let out a scream.
Luckily, police were just feet away, responding to an unrelated incident. Campus Police Chief Paul Banta explains, “They heard people calling for police, moved immediately to the location, and actually had him in custody either before he was outside the bathroom or right at the entryway to the bathroom.”
According to Banta, the suspect is an 18 year-old black male, and a student at Meramec.
Grupe says she’s never met him.
Soon after this student was taken into custody, he was released, since there’s no warrant yet for his arrest. The victim’s family is upset he’s still out there, but the campus police chief says it’s pretty common.
“Quite frankly, the prison system couldn’t hold people from the time they’re arrested to the time they go to trial; the system would be overwhelmed. There has to be an avenue for the person to be released unless they’re considered to be an imminent danger to the community, or that they might be a flight risk,” the chief explains.
Grupe says she won’t rest easy until he’s behind bars, especially since she’s sure he would’ve killed her. “It’s scary knowing he could do that again, and someone might not be as lucky. And I still feel kind of paranoid sometimes, like if I’m alone in the building, I know logically, that nothing’s gonna happen, but at the same time I can’t help but feel scared.”
Grupe’s family is also upset that police never sent out a campus-wide alert about what happened. However, the police chief said they didn’t have to, since the suspect is banned from campus until the outcome of his trial.