Police: 13-year-old girl sexually assaulted at Bitter Lake

by: Deborah Horne Updated:


SEATTLE - Bert Hufnagel says he walks through Bitter Lake Park in North Seattle every day, often stopping to fish. 

"The officers were standing right here," he said. "We come walking through here."

What he saw there Friday afternoon was unsettling.

"I didn't know what the heck happened," said Hufnagel. "I thought it was something maybe about the dead bird or something."

A 13-year-old girl told Seattle police detectives a man called her over by name.  When she responded, he grabbed her and dragged her into a secluded area and sexually assaulted her, she said. 

She managed to flee to the Bitter Lake Community Center for help.

The suspect, described as a heavy-set white man in his 40s, was last seen walking north along Bitter Place North.

It was the talk among neighbors, catching a bit of shade on a hot Saturday afternoon.

"I would like to catch the guy," said Thomas Hunter, who has lived in Bitter Lake for seven years. "For something like this to happen? How often do we see police here?"

"You got RVs parked out here," chimed in Paul Alexander, an eight-year Bitter Lake resident.  "Prostitution, all kinds of stuff.  Cops don't do anything."

It is a similar concern for Rochelle Burke.

"We have people here at 12 o'clock at night," she said, long after the park has closed.

Burke's backyard fence abuts the place where the teenager was assaulted.

"I think that there could be a little more maybe just a patrol that comes through in the evening," said Burke.  "I know they're busy. I get that. But sometimes I'm apprehensive to approach people because you never know what type of response you're going to get."

Seattle police need the public's help.

Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or contact detectives at 206-684-5575.