Crime

More victims sought in alleged sex crimes investigation involving Benning soldier

A day after a Fort Benning soldier was charged with public indecency at Cross Country Plaza, the Sex Crimes Unit of the Columbus Police Department has widened its investigation for more possible victims.

Blakely Patrick Griffin, 31, surrendered to police on Wednesday after a warrant was issued for one count of public indecency in connection with a 5:55 p.m. Jan. 22 incident at 3150 Macon Road. Dressed in his Army uniform, he was taken to the Muscogee County Jail and later released on $250 bond.

Police Lt. Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick said Thursday the department has received a few calls about similar incidents.

"It could be somebody who saw something and didn't report it," she said.

Blakely is accused of masturbating near a 27-year-old woman after asking for directions to Fort Benning. He was driving a white 2014 Ford Fusion and was partially nude with no clothes below his waist.

A complete tag number from the victim and surveillance video from Ross Dress For Less were enough to search for a suspect.

Dent-Fitzpatrick said the Investigative Bureau doesn't normally investigate misdemeanor crimes but decided to follow-up on information from the patrol officers on Saturday. When the report recommended no follow-up, the detective said that statement meant the bureau wouldn't get the case.

"Ordinarily, the Sex Crimes Unit works felonies," she said. "We aren't beneath working a misdemeanor. We have worked them. We picked this one up."

When they recommended no follow-up, that meant it was not coming to the Sex Crimes Unit. Dent-Fitzpatrick said the unit immediately started working on the case after reading the report on Saturday.

Based on information from witnesses, Detective Amanda Hogan is urging other potential victims to call her at 706-225-4278 or the Bureau of Investigation at 706-653-3400.

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