2007_04_hhr3.jpgWhile boldly trying to rob an apartment in Hollis, Queens on Thursday, Robert Williams was arrested after a scuffle with residents. And when police brought him to the station, a sergeant realized he was the prime suspect in the Hamilton Heights rape case, where a 23-year-old Columbia graduate student was raped and tortured for 19 hours last weekend. Williams was charged with kidnapping, arson, attempted murder, rape, robbery and sex abuse.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly revealed some more details about what the rapist did. He had been waiting for a target in the elevator of the Hamiltion Heights apartment building, saw the graduate student, and then forced his way into the apartment. From NY1: "Just as she's about to fully close the door, he pushes his way in, asks her if this individual he was initially looking for lives in the apartment," says Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "She says, 'no,' starts to scream. He puts her in a choke-hold and proceeds to attack her."

The NY Times reports, "Over the next 19 hours, Mr. Kelly said, the man tied the woman to her bed with computer cables and taped her mouth closed, raped and sodomized her repeatedly, burned her with hot water and bleach, slit her eyelids with scissors, and force-fed her an overdose of ibuprofen or a similar pain reliever." And Post says that doctors feared she would need a liver transplant; a law enforcement source said, "It was the most savage beating where the victim survived. This is not the act of an insane man, this was the action of an evil man." And the rapist also set fire to the apartment, but somehow the woman, even though she was bound by coaxial cables, managed to break free and escape.

2007_04_hrr5.jpgWilliams was caught by Queens residents when he tried to break into an apartment. The Daily News reports that cousins Devin Dodson and George Guadalupe (pictured) were at home when Williams burst into Guadalupe's apartment with a hammer. Other residents helped contain Williams by "beating him up" until the police arrived. They didn't know he was the rapist until later, causing one of the residents to tell the Post, "If we had known he was a rapist, he wouldn't have made it off this block."

Williams had been living in an vacant apartment in the building for the past few days. During a court appearance, his defense lawyer said Williams didn't speak at all, but when he did mumble, a judge said, "You'll have a chance to speak at your trial," to which Williams exclaimed, "I don't have a chance anyway." The judge held Williams without bail.
The rape victim is still scheduled to graduate next month, but she remains in the hospital in stable condition. One student told NY1, "Everyone at Columbia was just thinking about her and hoping for a speedy recovery, and just amazed that she was able to endure what she did and get away is just phenomenal." And though everyone is glad the suspect has been captured, one student told the NY Times, "I feel relief, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t some other psycho out there."