On Friday, Lake Lotawana police are following up on leads generated after releasing a sketch of a man who brutally attacked a woman whose car broke down.
The sketch was made possible by a generous offer by a local artist who works with police and the bravery of the victim.
Lee Hammond saw news reports about a man trying to kidnap and rape a woman whose car broke down earlier this month. A very detailed description was issued about the man.
Hammond, who operates a private art studio in Overland Park, has worked with police departments to develop suspect sketches. She called Lake Lotawana's police chief, presented her credentials and they agreed to have her work with the victim.
Hammond has worked with crime shows, documentaries and court-related television channels.
Hammond traveled to meet the woman on Thursday. Hammond said the meeting "was pretty charged with emotion" as would be expected.
"But she was an excellent person to work with," she said, adding that the victim is a strong woman.
Hammond used FBI suspect catalogues to help prompt the woman for details. Hammond brought along her dog, Jackie, to help keep the victim calm.
"She did a wonderful job. We were there for three hours and she really, really helped me and I'll be doing more of that in my police work," she said.
When the sketch was done, she knew she had nailed it by the victim's chilling and terrified response.
The woman, who is in her early 30s, was traveling on Langsford Road on the night of May 7 when her vehicle broke down about 200 feet west of Missouri Highway 7.
She said a man who had been following her then stopped and offered help, which she declined. She said he asked her to come back to his van so he could call the authorities. After her refusals, he jerked her ponytail and threw her against her vehicle while pulling out a gun. She fled toward a pile of brush and managed to call her boyfriend.
The suspect pursued her and found her hiding place. He proceeded to beat her and attempted to sexually assault her, police said. She managed to again escape and ran onto Highway 7 as she attempted to flag down a passing car. The frustrated man then took off.
Saying they didn't want to spook off the man, police waited two weeks to alert the public to the attack when they were unable to make an arrest.
Hammond hopes that her efforts lead to a quick arrest and helps in the brave woman's recovery.
"That is why I do what I do," she said. "That is the most rewarding thing in the world when you know you have one link that could perhaps aid these police officers in finally making a capture."
She said she is available 24/7 to help police agencies.
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