Barbara Ross, Kerry Burke and Robert F. Moore, Daily News (New York), April 20, 2007
The prime suspect in the sadistic rape of a Columbia University student was captured at a Queens break-in yesterday and arrested by police, sources said.
Robert Williams, 30, is a violent ex-con who attempted to kill his neighbor, beat a stranger on the subway and threw feces at prison guards, authorities said.
Officers responding to a report of a burglary on Woodhull Ave. in Hollis arrested the suspect about 5:45 p.m. after he nonchalantly left the building but couldn’t back up his statement that he lived there.
Once at the 103rd Precinct stationhouse, the arresting officers and their supervisors recognized Williams as the rape suspect from the picture released by the department earlier in the day, the sources said.
Williams was shipped to Manhattan for questioning in the horrific attack in Hamilton Heights.
He faces attempted murder, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, arson and other charges stemming from last week’s assault, police said today.
Cops believe Williamswho has spent much of his life behind barsfollowed the 23-year-old student out of an elevator in her building last Friday and shoved his way into her apartment.
The victim was bound to a futon, slashed, raped and burned with scalding water and bleach. Her eyelids were also slit. Before fleeing late Saturday afternoon, the rapist set her futon on fire.
Williamswho also uses the name William Robertsserved eight years in prison, the maximum sentence, for the 1996 shooting. He was denied parole three times because of 28 infractions ranging from assaulting inmates to throwing feces and urine on guards, records show.