Austin woman attacked in broad daylight while hiking in Barton Creek Greenbelt
AUSTIN, Texas - An Austin woman says she’s afraid to go hiking in the Barton Creek Greenbelt after a man attacked her near a trail in broad daylight then ran off.
More than 24 hours later, she says she’d like to see police doing more to track him down and is warning other hikers to be on alert.
Isabella Ricks has been hiking on the Violet Crown Trail in South Austin for about six years. "I did always feel safe anywhere that I went in Austin," she said.
That sense of safety was shattered Monday, April 24 when Ricks was attacked while hiking near the three-quarter mile marker not far from the Spyglass Drive trailhead. Around 4:30 p.m., she said she had stopped to look at some flowers that were sprouting near a ledge.
"And as I was crouched down, some, a man came up behind me and grabbed me around the waist," said Ricks.
Ricks says the guy seemed to come out of nowhere, but the vegetation in the area is pretty thick. She believes he was hiding out in the bushes, waiting for somebody to pass by.
"He said, come with me. And I was startled," Ricks said. "So I shot up and turned and immediately pushed him off of me. But I was at a ledge. So he had me cornered."
Ricks was eventually able to push past him and make it to the main trail, but with no one else around, the man followed her.
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"He started circling around me, trying to grab at me. And when I pulled out my phone and said, I'm calling the cops, he took off running," Ricks said.
Ricks tried to call police but had no service, so she ran back to the entrance and dialed 9-1-1.
"And it was just endlessly ringing," Ricks said. "Then I went to file an online report, and they told me that I had to call them to speak with somebody. So I did. And they said that somebody would call me back to take the report. And so far no one has."
Ricks describes her attacker as a Hispanic man in his 30s, with a slight build and light brown or dark blond hair. He was wearing a grey T-shirt, dark blue jeans and black sandals or flip-flops.
"He was not a normal hiker," said Ricks. "He just didn't look well like and his face looked dirty. So, like the visible parts of his, he just looked like he was probably living out in the woods."
After sharing her story on the NextDoor app, Ricks says she immediately started hearing about other women who had been through similar situations on the Greenbelt.
Looking back, Ricks credits her instincts and adrenaline for helping her escape.
"I reacted in a way that I never thought I would react, which is to immediately be defiant. And I think that really throws predators off," she said.
On Tuesday, April 25, FOX 7 passed along the information Ricks provided regarding the 911 call and online report to Austin police. On April 26, FOX 7 received a response from APD’s public information office:
"We reviewed our 911 database for April 24 and April 25 and searched for the phone number you provided, but we did not find a record of a call made to the Austin Emergency Communications Center. Based on the location of Violet Crown Trail, it’s possible [the] call routed to Travis County 911. We recommend you reach out to Travis County to see if they have a record of a call made to their 911 call center."
Austin Police also responded to Ricks’ criticism over having not heard from a detective since filing an online police report Monday, and following up with 311 late Tuesday morning:
"The Service Request [number redacted] you included in the email was in regards to a 311 call that was made on April 25, 2023, at approximately 11:51 a.m. Currently, reports filed through the iReport website typically get contacted by an APD Detective approximately 3 days after the complainant completes the questionnaire."