A Merrimac man has been arrested in connection with a home invasion and sexual assault that happened in the Massachusetts town earlier this month, officials announced.
William S. Raia, 50, was arrested Monday evening at his home by local and state police, more than two weeks after the July 3 incident, Merrimac Police Chief Eric Shears and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a press release. Raia is charged with four counts of aggravated rape, kidnapping, home invasion, strangulation and assault and battery causing bodily injury on an elderly person.
Authorities allege Raia is the man who broke into a 74-year-old woman's Hillside Avenue home around 11 p.m., the night before the Fourth of July. During the terrifying ordeal, the woman woke up to find the man in her bedroom armed with a knife, according to police. The suspect threatened the victim with his knife and repeatedly assaulted her, until she was able to flee to a nearby home and call police.
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The woman was taken to Lawrence General Hospital where she was treated and released. She went on to work with a police detective to create a sketch of the suspect, which was released to the public on July 5.
In the sketch, the suspect was described as a 5’5 to 5’6” tall man, approximately 40 years old with short brown hair, a thin build and a light complexion with a seasonal tan.
In the days following the frightening attack, neighbors were concerned that the suspect remained at large, while Shears assured the community that authorities were doing everything they could to locate the suspect as quickly as possible.
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“The entire team at the Merrimac Police Department worked diligently on this investigation since it was reported. I’m grateful for them as well as for the assistance of the Essex District Attorney’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab and the Essex State Police Detective Unit,” Shears said. “I also appreciate the continued support and patience of our community as we worked to identify and arrest the suspect.”
Shears said Monday night that although Raia is in custody, this remains an active investigation. Merrimac police, Massachusetts State Police and the Essex District Attorney's Office have been handling the case.
Raia is expected to be arraigned in Newburyport District Court Tuesday. It's unclear if he's obtained an attorney.