Bartow, Florida-- Cecil Campbell and his neighbors are very worried after police say a 13-year-old girl was raped Thursday morning in their East Bartow neighborhood.
"We just hope this person gets caught - the sooner the better," said Campbell, himself a grandfather of three young children.
"The dangers are just so much increased in these times. Perilous times," he said.
The victim tells police she was playing outside her house around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday when a man approached - and without saying a word, sexually assaulted her.
"In our interview with her, no words were exchanged between the two of them other than her screaming," said Bartow Police Sgt. Dave Wyant.
Detectives say the suspect took off on foot.
The girl, babysitting her younger siblings, says she ran back into the house and called her parents who were at work. They then called 9-1-1.
"We retrieved physical evidence that supports her story, so we believe it's a true incident," said Wyant.
The girl describes her attacker as a stranger: a black male, between 26 and 29 years old with short hair and a thin mustache. She also adds that he is about 6-feet tall and weighs 160-180 pounds. She also thinks she'd seen him before, a couple of days earlier driving a newer-model white Ford sedan.
Other children in the neighborhood, still on winter break, say they've now been warned to watch out for strangers and keep an eye out for the suspect's vehicle.
"They said watch for white cars," said an 11-year-old neighbor.
"Don't play outside alone," another girl says her mother warned, "That's why grown-ups got to walk with their children."
Bartow police say they were checking with other local police agencies to see if the description or details match any other recent cases.
They're also going over their list of registered sex offenders and running physical evidence collected from the victim.
They ask anyone with information about the case to call Bartow Police.