Daytona Beach, FL -
For the second time in around a week, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office is looking into a report of a rape on the beach.
Investigators think it happened around 1:30 a.m. today (September 8th) in the area of Seabreeze Boulevard and State Road A1A in Daytona Beach.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood says it isn't clear at this point if the suspect in this attack is also the one wanted for sexually assaulting a 68-year-old woman on Labor Day weekend in Daytona Beach Shores.
and click here
for more about the Shores case.
The suspect in this morning's case - described as either a black or Hispanic man - approached the 33-year-old woman on A1A and an agreement was made between the both of them to engage in some sort of sex act for pay on the beach, according to Chitwood.
"He eventually beats the living crap out of her, [gives her] severe facial injuries and sexually assaults her," Chitwood stated.
Forensic evidence is being gathered in this case to see if there's any connection to the Shores case.
Investigators are still interviewing the victim and trying to gather any video evidence from the traffic and security cameras which might identify the suspect, but the attack itself happened in an area which was dark.
"When they got out of the bright lights [of A1A] and got underneath the [Plaza] underpass onto the beach, a switch went off," Chitwood noted. "He completely turned and just began to pummel her and then sexually assaulted her and fled."
Even though there are some big differences between the cases - notably the ages of the victims and that one suspect never saw her attacker while the other solicited him for sex - Chitwood feels there are enough similarities to indicate that same man might be behind both.
"This is something we don't see," Chitwood said. "We think it's important for the community to know that there have been two rapes less than a mile and a half apart. Both attacks have occurred in the early morning hours. In both attacks, the women were brutally beaten."
Volusia County Beach Safety officials plan to increase the number of officers on patrol as a response to these attacks, as will the police departments of Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores.
Another key difference in the incidents is that the victim in this morning's case believes she's seen her attacker before in the Daytona Beach area, part of the reason why Chitwood is urging beachgoers - especially women - to remain vigilant and to not be alone in public.
"If you're going to come up here, you're going to go out with friends, you're going to a club, make sure you stay with your friends," Chitwood stated. "Don't wander off alone with anybody."
Anyone who has information in either case is urged to call Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 888-277-TIPS or click here to submit a tip online
. Up to $5,000 in reward money may be available for any tipsters who give information leading to an arrest and conviction.