Fla. Police on Murky Hunt for Women Seen in Photos

6 have been found safe in Windermere case
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2015 7:25 AM CST
Stock photo.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Police in central Florida have left many scratching their heads after sharing photos of seemingly unconscious women in an effort to identify them, then attempting to scrub the photos from the net. On Tuesday, Windermere police released screenshots of videos—recorded between 2006 and 2013—showing women lying on a floor or bed as though sleeping or unconscious, noting they were concerned for the women's safety, reports News 13. A day later, Police Chief David Ogden told the Orlando Sentinel that authorities had found six of at least nine women. They "are safe at this time," he said. But police "will not be identifying these women and we are moving forward with an open investigation." Ogden said police continue to search for the unidentified women but asked media outlets to take down the photos "out of courtesy for the women identified," per the Washington Post.

"We are not sure if they are harmed. We're not sure if they’re safe. We're not sure if they're even alive, to be honest with you," Ogden told News 13 on Monday. On Wednesday, he added "some of [the photos] are from ongoing cases, but again, we can't elaborate any more than that." The Post reports Windermere police identified a suspected serial rapist seven months ago, noting he allegedly recorded his assaults on incapacitated women, but police have not publicly linked the cases. A criminal justice professor says he's never seen a police department share photos of possible sexual assault victims, but "they may have thought the women were still in danger." Reads a comment on Ogden's Facebook page, per the Post: "Hopefully somebody thought about the implications of posting these photos BEFORE they did it."

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