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Police release photo of suspect in sexual assaults.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

A man wanted for allegedly trying to kidnap and sexually assault young girls in Springfield last month may have been staying in a local homeless shelter under an assumed name, the FBI said Friday.

Investigators have learned that the man had been staying at the shelter under the assumed name of John Griffiths at the time of the Aug. 27 assaults.

He also had worked at a Shell gasoline station in Eugene.

The man was using a Nevada driver's license issued in June 2006 in the name John Griffiths. The FBI on Friday released the photo from the license and said it was of the suspect.

They said his name is not John Griffiths but his true identity remains unknown.

The man is wanted for a series of predatory sexual attacks against young girls in Springfield.

On Aug. 27, he allegedly lured a 7-year-old girl away from her apartment building, took her behind some bushes and tried to remove her pants. Before he could do so, a passer-by scared him off.

Just 30 minutes later, authorities said he approached two 5-year-old girls at a nearby playground and grabbed one of them.

He had started to abuse one of the girls when the other screamed and scared him away, authories said.

Investigators obtained surveillance footage that showed the man boarding a Lane Transit District bus a short time later.

Springfield detectives are looking into whether the man tried to assault another girl after taking the bus to the Santa Clara area, Detective Jeff Martin said.

"This is a guy who needs to be stopped," Martin said.

Using the surveillance image, investigators determined that the man was using an assumed name and had been staying at the homeless shelter, FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said.

But the man had checked out of the shelter before investigators' arrival, she said. He was last known to be in the area early this month.

Investigators believe the man may have worked or may have family and friends in the following cities: Billings, Mont.; Meridian, Idaho; Boise, Idaho; Las Vegas; Las Cruces, N.M.; Island Park, N.Y.; and Santa Rosa, Calif.

The suspect is white, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 195 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. He is in his mid- to late-30s.

He may try to get work at gas stations or convenience stores or as a delivery truck driver.

He is known to wear Hawaiian shirts, to drink excessively and to hitchhike with truck drivers, the FBI said.

Anyone with information about the suspect's whereabouts is asked to call the Springfield Police Department at 726-3714, the Eugene FBI office during normal business hours at 343-5222, or the Portland FBI office 24-hours a day at (503) 224-4181.
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Title Annotation:Crime; Authorities are trying to find the identity of a man wanted in a series of attacks on young girls
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 23, 2006
Words:460
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