Officials were also investigating a kidnapping attempt in the area on October 23, 1998, in which a man approached two girls who were walking through the grounds of Upwey Secondary College at night for directions and attempted to put them into a car at gunpoint to force.
According to reports from AgeOne of the girls was pursued by the alleged attacker, who tried to drag her into the car. The teenager managed to free himself and run away.
At the time, investigators were looking for a heavily built man in his forties with short, tanning hair driving a dark blue sedan and a maroon station wagon with a mattress and curtains. At the time of the Belgrave and Clematis attacks he was wearing a hat.
Detectives said Wednesday they were looking into links between the attacks and a series of other incidents in the Dandenong Ranges between 1996 and 2000, in which a man allegedly approached young women in remote areas, offered them a ride and threatened them with a gun before having sex to attack them.
The incidents occurred around Belgrave railway station, Wellington Road in Clematis, Belgrave-Gembrook Road in Belgrave, Selby and Menzies Creek. The victims were all between 15 and 22 years old.
Investigators believe the man used various vehicles in the attacks, including a maroon four-wheel drive Toyota 4Runner.
Sexual Crime Squad Detective Inspector Juliann Goldrick said the arrest was the result of an investigation into the incidents that spanned more than two decades.
“Today’s finding is a testament to the tenacity and dedication of the Sexual Crime Squad investigators, both past and present,” she said.
“Regardless of the duration, we will continue to investigate these serious crimes and try to find answers for victims of sexual assault.”
Goldrick said it was possible other women had been attacked in similar circumstances and had not reported the attack to police. “I’m asking you to consider reaching out and telling us your story,” she said.
Police would like to speak to anyone who hitchhiked in the Dandenong Ranges between 1996 and 2000, including those who did so without incident, as they may have information that could provide investigators with missing “pieces of the puzzle”..
This includes women who may have been approached by a man in a vehicle in the Dandenong Ranges area and offered a ride or enticed into a vehicle, or anyone who accepted a ride and was threatened with a gun or sexually assaulted .
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/victoria/man-arrested-over-dandenong-ranges-hitchhiker-abductions-20220713-p5b1c0.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Victoria Police arrest a suspect on alleged kidnapping and sexual assault charges