Crime

Sketch of suspect who brutally beat high school students at FIU is released

With the help of one of the victims, police created this computerized sketch of the teenager who attacked two high school students on the north campus of Florida International University earlier this week.
With the help of one of the victims, police created this computerized sketch of the teenager who attacked two high school students on the north campus of Florida International University earlier this week. Florida International University Police

Police on Thursday said they had few new leads in their search for the person who bludgeoned two high school students in a remote part of Florida International University’s north campus earlier this week.

University police did manage, however, to cobble together a sketch of the attacker on the same day that Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The computerized sketch was done with the help of the 15-year-old female victim, who had recovered enough from her head injuries to provide more detailed information about her attacker. The picture police released Thursday afternoon is of a heavyset teenage male of indeterminate race, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with spiked, dark hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt and dark cargo shorts.

After the Monday morning incident, FIU police initially released an description of the suspect as a “16- to 18-year-old black male wearing basketball shorts.” Police said the victim, in helping investigators create the sketch, provided additional information that assailant may have been of mixed-race.

FIU didn’t directly address the change in the attacker’s description.

“As always, the information we share is the best we have at the time,” said school spokeswoman Maydel Santana.

Bela Perdomo and James Critz, 16, students at Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST) who both also study at FIU’s campus along Biscayne Bay, said they had walked into the woods toward the water to take some samples for a marine biology class. The two teens were part of a larger group of high school students who volunteered to go to the FIU campus Monday even though school was out.

There, they told police, they passed a teenage male who said hello. Less than a minute later he returned carrying a tree limb, Perdomo’s mother said. He first beat James unconscious, then attacked Bela, also striking her in the head. Bela told WPLG Channel 10 that her attacker, whom the students didn’t recognize, said that if she removed her clothes, he wouldn’t kill her.

She yelled and he ran.

Both students remained hospitalized in Broward County on Thursday. James, who has a fractured skull, is in and out of consciousness, police said. Bela, who is recovering, had her picture taken Thursday morning in the hospital with Channel 10 news reporter Kristi Krueger and Zoo Miami communications director Ron Magill, who is scheduled to accompany her to Antarctica in February. Bela’s right eye is blackened.

Late last year, Bela was named an Eco Hero by WPLG for inventing something called “Cleaner Bottoms,” which essentially uses an ultrasonic sound wave machine to remove barnacles and other debris from the bottom of boats, eliminating the need for chemicals which foul the ocean.

Her prize was the trip with Magill.

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