NEW YORK -- A Wall Street banker was unconscious but clinging to life Friday as police questioned five suspects and sought at least seven others in a Central Park rampage by youths who raped the woman and left her for dead.
The victim, a 28-year-old investment banker who police said desperately fought against at least a dozen assailants, hovered near death in the intensive care unit of Metropolitan Hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
She had been jogging along a path in a desolate reach of the sprawling park when the youths attacked, dragging her through heavy underbrush and trees down a ravine, then bludgeoning and raping her, police said.
The five suspects, who ranged from 13 to 15 years old, were arrested within minutes of the Wednesday night assault after police received reports of a string of other muggings nearby in the northern end of the 4 -mile-long park.
They were charged with attacking a 40-year-old jogger who was hit on the head with a lead pipe, police said. The jogger, who was not seriously hurt, told police he encountered the gang as they assaulted another victim, possibly the woman.
The five were charged as juveniles and their identities were withheld by police. Three were charged with second-degree assault and unlawful assembly and two were charged with unlawful assembly, police said.
'We believe these youths and others are responsible for two or three other incidents, and we believe there is a connection between these assaults and the attack on this woman,' Chief of Detectives Robert Colangelo said Thursday.
The 5-foot-5, 105-pound, brown-haired woman was jogging on a cool springlike night under a full moon when she was accosted.
'She was dragged down into the bushes near what is called the Loch, where she was beaten and sexually assaulted,' Colangelo said.
Two other late-night joggers spotted the woman near the narrow waterway about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, nearly three hours after the attack. She was bloodied, unconscious and naked but for a jogging bra, a yellow ring and a blood-stained running jersey that had been used to both gag her and bind her arms, the chief said.
Police described the victim as a 28-year-old resident of Manhattan's Upper East Side who works as an investment banker at Salomon Brothers on Wall Street and has family in Pittsburgh.
She was brought unconscious to Metropolitan Hospital, where doctors said she suffered two skull fractures, a significant loss of blood and advanced hypothermia.
Detectives believed the woman was the final victim of the gang roving youths.
'They're from Upper Manhattan and they came down into the park to cause some disruption -- and obviously they did just that,' police Deputy Commissioner Alice McGillion said.
Other victims included an elderly man who was mugged and robbed of a bag of food about 9:35 p.m. and a couple riding a tandem bicycle, who were chased but escaped unharmed.
Undercover detectives and officers in squad cars caught up with two of the youths as they fled the park, and picked up three more who had turned and fled back into the heavily wooded park, police said.
Because the woman had not yet been discovered, two of the five youths were released to their parents, but picked up again Thursday morning, Colangelo said.
Colangelo balked at suggestions that it is unsafe to jog in Central Park, saying runners and bicyclists should be safe if they take two key standard precautions -- don't jog after dark without a partner and avoid areas where there are no other runners.
'I think this was an isolated incident -- perhaps the weather and the spring and the fact that there is no school (Thursday for Passover) may have had something to do with this,' Colangelo said. 'The youths saw the woman and it was a spontaneous judgment to attack her. This was a crime of opportunity.'