Police arrest Lafayette man for sexual assault on popular community trail

Lyondre Williams, 21, was arrested Tuesday night in connection to a sexual assault that happened in July. (Photo: Tippecanoe County Jail)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WTHR) - After two months on the run, police arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting a jogger on a popular trail near Purdue University.

Police say a trail of clues captured on camera helped their investigation.

Officers with the Lafayette Police Department made the arrest Tuesday night around 9:45 at the Briarwood Apartments. The accused attacker is a homeless man, 21-year-old Lyondre Williams.

Williams is being held in the Tippecanoe County Jail on charges of rape, attempted rape, sexual battery and interfering with the reporting of a crime.

The attack on July 20 on the Wabash Heritage Trail had people in West Lafayette and near Purdue on edge.

"Crimes like this just don't happen here," said West Lafayette Police Lt. Jonathan Eager.

A woman exercising around noon told investigators someone grabbed her from behind and sexually assaulted her. The phone in her running belt was tossed by her attacker when she tried to call for help.

But court documents say the victim saw his face during the assault. And then, she saw it again in surveillance video.

A trail of high-tech clues helped police identify Williams.

They discovered and shared images from a fast food restaurant 15 minutes before the attack. Then city cameras captured the same man crossing a pedestrian bridge into Lafayette.

The victim said they matched her attacker.

"Their (surveillance cameras) assistance is a huge benefit in a lot of what we do, so I'd say this arrest was no different," Eager said.

Trail users like Mark Wilderman and Amber Rehmel say they'd like to see additional cameras, even in the park.

"I think they ought to have more to tell you the truth even in the trees, have some type of security camera like a trail cam or something," Wilderman said.

"It's a safety precaution wherever you are," Rehmel added.

In this case, surveillance video and officers putting in overtime led to an arrest and relief for people who use this popular trail.

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