Then, as I was chatting with a friend in Little Rock this afternoon, he informed me that the sister-in-law of a fellow we know from college was tortured and raped in New York:
Tied-up Columbia student left to die used fire set by creep to free herself
BY JIMMY VIELKIND, LISA L. COLANGELO and MELISSA GRACE
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Monday, April 16th 2007, 4:00 AM
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Tied up and left to die in a burning apartment, a Columbia student used the blaze set by her sadistic rapist to free herself, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday.
"It appears she was able to escape as a result of the fire," Kelly said. "She was tied, and the flame was used by her to break the bond."
The 23-year-old woman, identified by sources as a student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, endured 19 hours of rape and torture at the hands of a sick creep in her Hamilton Heights apartment Friday night.
In what Kelly called a "particularly vicious" assault, the fiend tied his victim to a bed, cut her, raped her, burned her with scalding water and chemicals - and then set the woman's futon on fire to cover up the crime, police said.
He was so brutal he slit her eyelids, Kelly said.
The student used the flames to free herself and fled her fifth-floor apartment with her hands still bound to each other to get help from a neighbor, officials said.
The woman remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
Cops yesterday were combing through surveillance video for images of the attacker, who followed the woman into her building near City College at 9:30 p.m.
Kelly said detectives were looking to see if there was any evidence the rapist had attacked before, but said, "It does not appear right now to be part of a pattern."
One man said he saw the victim in the basement of the building shortly after she escaped.
"She just kept saying, 'I've been raped,' " said Ronald Ward, 19, who spotted the fire and ran downstairs for help, where he found the building's superintendent, Carl Peroune, trying to soothe the woman as they waited for an ambulance.
"She was down there crying," Ward said.
Police were hunting for the attacker, described as a bald, 6-foot-1, 180-pound black man in his 30s with a goatee and a scar on his abdomen.
Several residents of the woman's six-story Hamilton Terrace building, located on a quiet treelined block of neat rowhouses, said she had moved in within the last two months.
"I've been living in this building 30 years, and nothing like this ever happened," said another resident, Teddy Perkins, 55. "This is real shocking."