Leean Hendrix was walking her dog when someone grabbed her. But it wasn’t just a grope, or a quick touch — it was a violent and terrifying threat to her life.
And now she wants the public to know that the man who’s been groping and assaulting women in Ahwatukee Foothills is far more dangerous than many realize.
At a 7 p.m. community meeting with police at The Summit School of Ahwatukee, a tearful Hendrix spoke out about her June 12 encounter with the man who has been attacking women in the area possibly since late 2004.
Hendrix said the man tried to drag her into a secluded portion of Sun Ray Park, but she was able to escape when they tripped over a boulder.
“This man beat me, attempted to stab me and almost completely ripped my shirt off, among other things,” Hendrix, 30, told a crowd of nearly 100 people. “I didn’t scream because he had his hand around my mouth and my throat.”
Hendrix, who was 1998's Miss Arizona, told police she wants more officers on patrol in her area — and she wants “the whole truth” given to the community about the serial groper’s capacity for violence.
“I love Ahwatukee, but I’m concerned that you’re trying maybe not to put a black mark on Ahwatukee,” Hendrix told police. “Something has to be done. We need the truth — the whole truth.”
Police said they notified the public of the attacks in February after they realized the incidents could be related. They said it has been hard to gather an accurate physical description of the man since his encounters with women are often brief and he usually attacks from behind.
He is described as white, between 25 years old to 40 years old, 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2, and weighing 175 to 240 pounds. Some victims say he has a receding hairline or is balding and has a tattoo on the top of his right hand. In most cases, police said the man has grabbed women along greenbelts as they jog or walk. The attacks happen from the afternoon to nighttime hours.
“What we pay attention to is behavior,” said Phoenix police Assistant Chief Kevin Robinson. “We have to try to figure out things the best we can using crime analysis.”
Robinson said authorities have dedicated to the case “no less than 30" officers who are going to “stay out there and do whatever they can.”
Residents at the meeting clapped with each presentation from police. Some women wiped tears from their eyes after Hendrix and other residents spoke emotionally. Many women also shared tips on staying safe.
The current Miss Arizona, Hilary Griffith, attended the meeting to support women who were attacked. Griffith was raped in her own home in 2004 and has become an outspoken community member on the issue.
She urged women who have been recently attacked to call police and to not
Hendrix and her family nodded in agreement after Griffith spoke. The auditorium erupted in applause.
“Please, please do not diminish what has happened to us by calling him someone who was groping,” Hendrix pleaded to police and the crowd. “All I’m asking you to do is to find the money, the resources and the police officers to protect this area.”