APD investigating sexual assault linked to social media app

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -  Amarillo Police are searching for a man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman after an online chat turned into a face-to-face meet-up.

Amarillo police say this case is far from over, despite not having a lot of information on the suspect and what led to the assault.

Earlier this month, officers responded to a sexual assault report at a home in south Amarillo. A young woman told officers she had been exchanging messages with a man through a social media app.

They met at about midnight at the woman's home, where she says the sexual assault took place.

"These days, it's not quite so easy to keep people from talking to strangers," said Sergeant Brent Barbee with the Amarillo Police Department. "These apps that allow you and encourage you to talk to strangers, elevate your risk level."

The man was listed as "anonymous" in the message exchange. The anonymity in the app is making it difficult for police to trace him.

"We want people to understand that the same thing that allows you to talk to people, keep us from finding out who you talk to," said Barbee.

In most cases, police can request information from internet service providers or apps. However, that process takes time and very often requires a subpoena.

"They can go to those providers and they can get your IP address, whether it be from your home computer or even if it's just an app," said local attorney Mike Warner. "They've got the technology to go an do that, it just cost money."

More people are turning to social media apps and programs to meet others for its convenience, but that convenience brings dangers that keep police evolving their skills to find suspects.

"It makes things a lot harder for us, we're always slightly behind in trying to catch up and as technology moves faster, then that's going to require us to move faster," said Barbee.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic or Asian male with short dark hair, small mustache, and wears glasses. He's believed to be in his 30's. The vehicle he drove to the residence was a small, two-door that may have been blue.

If you know who this person might be, call Amarillo Crimestoppers at 374-4400.

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