A man suspected of beating, choking and sexually assaulting two women on consecutive days last summer in University City and Grantville, leaving both hospitalized, was behind bars Wednesday in Arizona, where he was arrested by agents with a sex-offender task force.
Jeremiah Ira Williams, 25, surrendered without incident last Thursday afternoon in a residential neighborhood in the Maricopa County city of Tolleson, just west of Phoenix, according to police.
The suspect has waived extradition and is expected to be transferred to San Diego soon to face charges in the two cases, SDPD Lt. Paul Phillips told reporters.
“Numerous” tips from the public aided authorities in locating the suspect, including information that placed him in Arizona, where he was believed to have been living recently, the lieutenant told news crews during an afternoon briefing in front of downtown San Diego police headquarters.
The first of the attacks occurred on the night of Aug. 13 in the 3900 block of Nobel Drive. The 28-year-old victim had just been dropped off by a friend following a beach cookout when Williams allegedly followed her through a parking structure to her apartment, pushed her to the ground, pulled a handgun and told her to give him money.
After the woman handed over some cash, the assailant choked her and dragged her into her residence, where he beat and sexually assaulted her before fleeing, according to police. She was admitted to a trauma center for treatment of facial fractures and other injuries.
Four days later, detectives were sent to Sharp Memorial Hospital to investigate a belated sex-assault report, Phillips said. They interviewed a 23-year-old patient who described being attacked by an acquaintance at a motel in the 4300 block of Alvarado Canyon Road on the evening of Aug. 14.
The woman told police that the assailant, whom she had just met, entered her room, throttled her, hit her on the head with a pistol and sexually assaulted her. When she screamed for help, the man fled.
Detectives subsequently determined that officers responding to that assault had arrived to find the woman gone but gathered evidence from the motel room for possible use in case a victim came forward.
Police also determined that Williams had been detained on the night of the second crime by California Highway Patrol personnel who happened to be in the area when it was reported and spotted him lurking in a nearby canyon.
Due to the lack of a victim and sketchy information about what had happened at the motel, Williams was released with a citation for a gun violation, though his pistol was confiscated, police said.
It would be several days before detectives realized that two very similar assaults had occurred that weekend.
Physical evidence and victim interviews allegedly implicate Williams in both crimes.
Various law enforcement agencies, including federal bodies, helped search for Williams in California, Arizona, Illinois and Texas, Phillips said.
— City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: