Woman raped in department store bathroom

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February 5, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A woman says she was held at gunpoint and raped in the bathroom of a popular clothing store in the middle of the day.

The surveillance cameras may have captured some important clues.

Officers say it happened at the Goody's department store off Deans Bridge Road at around 2 o'clock this afternoon.

CrimeTeam 12's Lynnsey Gardner was the first reporter on the scene.

The victim is a 24-year-old mother of two. She wanted to make a quick stop on her way to work. She walked in and went to the bathroom, where investigators say a man was waiting.

"He was there several minutes before the victim walked in," Richmond County Sgt. Richard Roundtree told News 12. "When the victim walked in, he displayed the weapon and forced her into one of the stalls, where he sexually assaulted her."

The victim's family says that for nearly 30 minutes, the man held the woman at gunpoint and raped, robbed, and tormented her with questions like "Why shouldn't I kill you right now?"

Her family says she pleaded for her life, telling the attacker she has two children, to which he responded, "My mother didn't care, so why should I?"

"After the sexual assault, the suspect actually attempted to force the victim to leave the store with him," Sgt. Roundtree said.

Surveillance video shows the two leaving the bathroom and passing right between two female employees, the man's arm around the victim's neck.

Beyond the field of view of the video, right after turning the corner, the victim dropped her purse.

Once they were outside, she told the man she had to go back in because she didn't have her keys.

"Fortunately the victim was allowed back into the store," Sgt. Roundtree said. "Had access to employees, and the employees became suspicious at that point, and when the suspect was confronted, he fled on foot."

News 12 spoke with the victim's family. We're hiding their identities to protect the victim.

"I want him caught," her husband said. "I just want them to get out there and catch him."

"Every day you think this could never happen to you, but this is an eye-opener...it just did," said her brother-in-law.

It did--and right in the middle of the afternoon, closing the store for several hours.

The good news here is that investigators have some pretty good surveillance pictures to work with, as well as eyewitnesses in the store, and investigators say they also have quite a bit of physical evidence

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