A homeless man was arrested and charged for the heinous rape of a 27-year-old woman who was jogging in Central Park on Thursday.
New York City police officers arrested homeless man Paulie Velez, 25, around 12:50 a.m. on Saturday for his alleged role in the reprehensible crime, the New York Post reports. Velez took off running from his mother’s home in Queens when authorities came looking for him, but he was ultimately corralled by police, the Post reports.
Velez allegedly choked the 27-year-old jogger out until she was unconscious and proceeded to rape her around 7:20 a.m. in Central Park, according to the Post.
In a Thursday briefing, New York Police Department (NYPD) Inspector Michael King said the victim was assisted by a passerby and taken to the hospital, the Post reports.
Velez allegedly stole the victim’s cell phone during the attack, according to the New York Daily News.
Surveillance video at N and R subway station on the south end of the park captured the suspect entering the station, according to ABC 7. Later the suspect was observed on surveillance footage from the Smokey Valley smoke shop near Times Square and reportedly attempted to sell the stolen phone to the store’s clerk, who refused the item as he assumed it was stolen, according to ABC 7.
On November 11, NYPD Crime Stoppers released images of the suspect to the public.
🚨WANTED FOR RAPE: On 11/11/21 at 7:21 A.M., in the vicinity of Swan Lake and Center Drive @NYPDCentralPark @Manhattan, The suspect grabbed a 28 Y/O female victim from behind choked and raped her. Any info call at 800-577-TIPS or DM @NYPDTips. Reward up to $3,500. pic.twitter.com/V0gr7cxAsp
— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) November 12, 2021
Velez was tracked down with the aid of a tip submitted to NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case informed NBC New York.
The alleged rapist faces “charges of rape, robbery, strangulation, assault and sex abuse,” according to the New York Daily News. His arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court was pending as of Saturday.
Velez was arrested earlier this year in Florida on kidnapping, sexual assault, and battery charges, the Post reports.
“He gets locked up for that, agrees to enter a plea — there was a court date and he doesn’t show up,” a source told the outlet of Velez’s Florida arrest.
On Thursday, authorities arrested an 18-year-old in connection to a sexual assault at another New York City Park, Breitbart News reported. Rahmel Bali allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old while she was on her way home from school at Crotona Park in the Bronx on Monday. Bali is charged with “criminal sexual assault, attempted sex abuse, criminal obstruction of breathing, assault and harassment,” according to Pix11.