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Police searching for suspect after New Haven woman assaulted with corrosive chemical

NEW HAVEN–Police are searching for the suspect in an assault on a woman involving corrosive chemicals. On Friday, January 8, at 7:45 p.m., New Haven offic...
Derek Rawls
Police searching for suspect after New Haven woman assaulted with corrosive chemical

On Friday, January 8, at 7:45 p.m., New Haven officers responded to a Spring Street home on reports of an assault.

The victim was rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital for injuries to her face, neck, chest and arms, and her skin was discolored and peeling.

The victim told officers that her upstairs male neighbor had thrown a caustic liquid at her, causing the injuries. Detectives found a red plastic cup that had remnants of a chemical inside, which along with her injuries confirmed her account.

The victim said that she had previously dated the man who attacked her, but that they had broken up and she had an active restraining order against him. The victim said that the attack happened after she refused to marry him. She also said that he told her she had a handgun, but that she had never seen it.

The suspect was identified by the victim as Derek Lee Rawls, 50, of New Haven. However, police think that he is on the run and may have gone to Atlanta, Georgia.

Rawls is described as black, 5-foot-8 and weighing about 220 pounds. He has brown hair with gray in it and brown eyes. He is usually clean shaven, and has a scar on his cheek under his right eye. He also has two identifying tattoos: one of praying hands on his upper right arm, and another on his right forearm showing his children’s faces.

He drives a champagne-colored Ford Taurus with a Connecticut license plate, and though police don’t know the exact plate number, it was reported to be something along the lines of AB9-3711.

The victim has been treated and released from the hospital. If you have any information on the suspect’s whereabouts, please call New Haven Police at 203-946-6304.