Rape, kidnapping suspect was paroled in December

Special
Cuyler

An IHOP employee accused of raping, kidnapping and threatening to kill an Augusta woman Sunday was on parole and had recently been released after 14 years in prison.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections Web site, Willie Lee Cuyler, 41, was convicted in Burke County in 1994 of aggravated assault. He was released in December.

Authorities now believe that a homicide might have been averted when the 30-year-old victim -- nude except for a bloody sheet and comforter wrapped around her body -- leaped from the suspect's gold Cheverolet Impala at the intersection of Peach Orchard and Windsor Spring roads.

"All indications were that he was going to kill her," sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said.

The incident, according to a sheriff's report, happened like this:

The victim told police that she was walking on Ninth Street at about 5:50 a.m. when a man asked if she would like a ride home. Once inside the car, he wouldn't let her leave and drove her to where he lived at 2107 Reedale Ave.

After forcing the woman to have sex with him, the man began strangling her with a wire hanger, telling the victim: "I am going to kill you: you're going to die." The victim struggled free, and the attacker tried to smother her with a pillow. He left the room after she fought him off and returned with a broken wooden plunger handle and began beating her on her back. He bound the woman's hands, possibly with a telephone cord, then wrapped her in a green sheet and comforter covered with her blood.

He then "placed her in the back seat of his vehicle and told her he was going to throw her in the river." But she was able to get free and jump from the moving car. A witness helped her out of the road.

Maj. Autry said his department is searching for Mr. Cuyler and is checking to see if he might be tied to other crimes in the area.

Investigators later determined that Mr. Cuyler was a manager at the IHOP restaurant at 3125 Peach Orchard Road, and the incident occurred at a home that is rented to the restaurant's employees, the report said.

He is described as black, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 152 pounds. He was driving a late-model, gold Chevrolet Impala. Anyone with information can call the sheriff's office at (706) 821-1080.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3338 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.