Police link sex attack on jogger in park to murder of American artist

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Detectives hunting the killer of the American artist Margaret Muller are investigating a sex attack on another woman in the same park.

Seven months after Miss Muller, 27, was murdered during an early-morning jog around Victoria Park in Hackney, east London, a second incident with "highly significant" similarities took place on 2 September.

Like Miss Muller, the latest victim was aged 27 and was jogging alone around the park at about 8am when she was attacked, only yards from the scene of Miss Muller's murder. She was grabbed from behind and indecently assaulted before the assailant was interrupted by a passer-by and fled.

Detective Chief Inspector Ron Scott, the investigating officer, described how similarities in the geography and the timing of the latest attack had prompted serious concern that they were both carried out by the same man.

"The victim had been jogging through the park between 7.45am and 8.15am when she realised a man was running close behind her. He eventually caught up with her and started making suggestive comments before grabbing and indecently assaulting the woman.

"There are clearly similarities between this attack and the murder of Margaret Muller, particularly the timing and location of the incident. It's not only vital we eliminate this man from our inquiries but also that we apprehend him before he is able to target anyone else."

The suspect was described as Asian, aged between 17 and 23, 5ft 11ins and thin, with pock-marked skin and collar-length black hair. He had an Asian accent and a lisp and was wearing a brown hooded tracksuit and black sandals.

Miss Muller was found on a path between a rose garden and a playground after other joggers heard her screams. She had been stabbed repeatedly in the back. Police have offered a £15,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of her killer.

In March, officers staged the Metropolitan Police's largest reconstruction, asking more than 100 witnesses to retrace their movements in Victoria Park. Officers have made at least 1,000 house-to-house inquiries and have taken more than 1,000 statements.

Miss Muller, from North Virginia, had lived in the Hackney area for three years and was studying at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Yesterday, police investigating the two incidents reiterated appeals for two men of Mediterranean appearance to come forward. The men were seen sprinting from the park shortly after Miss Muller's death at around 8.30am. The two reportedly ran through the Rose Gardens across to Cawley Gate before continuing into nearby Guinness Close, where they appeared to slow down to a brisk walking pace.

The first man was described as 6ft tall with short black hair, wearing blue jeans and training shoes, and held his head down in an apparent attempt to avoid recognition.

The second man was smaller, with short, scruffy black hair, and was wearing blue jeans and a green parka-style jacket with the collar turned up to his face.