Rape suspects still at large in Macon County

Two recent rapes in Macon County involving assailants unknown to the victims, both cases still unsolved, have left many women here on edge.

In early August, a woman living on Rose Creek Cove Road in the Cowee community was raped after a man broke into her home during daylight hours. Late last month, on Sept. 25, a woman in the Nantahala National Forest near Wayah Road was raped after stopping to help a man lying by the side of the road.

There also was a rape in the Cashiers area of Jackson County on Aug. 14. That suspect was identified as a Hispanic male.

The suspects in Macon County, however, are identified as white males, about 6-feet tall with short brown hair, both with green to blue eyes. The only variance in the descriptions is that the Rose Creek suspect was described as having a skinny to medium-sized frame; the woman in Wayah Bald said the man who raped her weighed about 200 pounds.

Is it the same guy? No way to know the answer to that at this point, since law enforcement isn’t saying. Or, doesn’t know at this juncture.

“It is unusual. It stays in the back of your mind — I’d like to know if it is the same guy, and would like to see him caught,” said Trish Bazemore, assistant manager of the newly opened CB’s General Store (formerly Big D’s) on N.C. 28 outside of Franklin, who lives and works near the Rose Creek area near where the first victim was raped.

Bazemore said she’s not overly concerned for her own safety. But she does worry for older women and young mothers in the area who stay at their homes alone.

“I have a little Yorkie, and he’s mean; and I have a gun … and I’m really mean,” Bazemore said, only slightly in jest.

It takes a particularly brazen individual to break into a house during the daylight hours, when someone is home and, as in Bazemore’s case, might well have a gun near at hand. Or, in the other rape case, to pretend incapacitation until a woman stops to help — was it a deliberate trap, or a case of misfortunate timing?

Regardless of what exactly did take place, two cases of stranger rape raises serious questions about what, exactly, is going on in Macon County.

“It’s freaked a lot of people out here,” said Christina Brucker, taking a break from minding the cash register at Big Mountain Barbecue on the Corner, located where the Depot Street connector and N.C. 28 converge.

Her mother, Sharon Brucker, who was overseeing the restaurant, agreed: “It’s just really strange,” she said. “There are a lot of questions in the community.”

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