Friday, April 20, 2007

Homeless ex-convict is accused of rape, kidnap and arson in torture of student

CBS/AP:

William Roberts

A homeless ex-convict was arrested in the rape and torture of a Columbia University graduate student, who was held hostage for 19 hours in her apartment, cut with a knife and left tied up with the bed set ablaze.

Robert Williams, 30, faces attempted murder, rape, kidnapping, arson and other charges stemming from last week's assault, police said Friday.

Investigators said evidence found at the scene of the attack and an anonymous tip pointed to Williams. The suspect, also known as William Roberts, has previous convictions for attempted murder and assault.

Williams was arrested Thursday during an attempted break-in at a home in Queens, CBS station WCBS-TV reported.

It was unclear whether he had a lawyer who could comment.

The victim was still hospitalized with cuts to her eyelids and other injuries.

The attack began April 13 after the assailant slipped inside the victim's upper Manhattan apartment building and forced his way into her home. Over the next several hours, the assailant raped her on her futon bed, tied her up with computer cables, force fed her drugs and alcohol and used a knife to slit her eyelids, police said.

Before fleeing at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the assailant ignited a corner of the futon. The victim used the flames to loosen the cables and run for help, police said.

Investigators recovered a surveillance videotape from a neighboring market showing the man believed to be the rapist walk in wearing a large jacket over a hooded sweat shirt. He is seen walking toward an automated teller machine, where, police said, he withdrew $200 from the victim's bank account. The woman was a journalism student.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY RAPIST CAUGHT IN QUEENS BURGLARY

SECURITY ALERT UPDATE: ASSAULT OF COLUMBIA JOURNALISM GRADUATE STUDENT

Police ID Suspected Hamilton Heights Rapist

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