Originally created 07/24/99

Assault suspect arrested



A Richmond County employee suspected in at least three random attacks was arrested Friday morning and charged in an attack on a 16-year-old girl.

Roosevelt Palmer, 38, of the 3100 block of Truxton Road, was arrested while working on a fountain at Broad and Seventh streets just before noon Friday, said Richmond County Chief Deputy Ronald Strength.

Mr. Palmer, a painter in the county's carpentry shop, was charged with one count of burglary and one count of kidnapping.

Investigators were led to Mr. Palmer after a break-in at a home Thursday at about 2:30 a.m. While a 16-year-old girl was asleep in her bed, a tall, slender man who had broken into the house covered the teen's mouth and forced her from the bedroom into the den.

Her screams awakened her father, who chased the attacker outside. The two struggled, and the girl's father bit the suspect on the right side of his rib cage.

The man broke free and fled in a nearby vehicle, the chief deputy said. When Mr.

Palmer was arrested Friday, he had a bite mark on his right side. Police said they believe he entered the house through an unlocked den window.

Mr. Palmer, an employee with Richmond County since July 1996, also is suspected in two similar attacks on women in recent months. Chief Deputy Strength said additional charges are pending.

On April 21, just before 1 a.m., a 29-year-old woman was asleep in bed with her two children. She awoke to a tall, slender man with his hands around her neck, choking her, the chief deputy said.

The woman screamed and the man jumped up and ran out of the house as the woman's boyfriend chased him. He watched the attacker drive away in a small, blue vehicle, Chief Deputy Strength said.

The attacker got into the house by cutting the screen out of a kitchen window.

A 44-year-old woman was attacked similarly in her home June 12 at about 6 a.m. She awoke to find a tall, slender man in her room coming toward her. She screamed, and he started choking her, Chief Deputy Strength said.

The woman's son, asleep in another room, chased the man out of the house and soon lost sight of him. The attacker got into the house by forcing the door open.

No weapons were used in any of the attacks, and the women were not hurt. All three attacks happened within a mile of each other.

After Mr. Palmer's arrest, investigators executed a search warrant at his home where they confiscated evidence. Police wouldn't detail what the items were.

Mr. Palmer has been put on administrative leave without pay.

Meghan Gourley covers crime for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3227 or mgourley@augustachronicle.com.