Police identify suspect in University City, Grantville sexual assault cases

Posted at 3:50 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 11:27:51-04

SAN DIEGO - Authorities asked the public Tuesday to be on the lookout for a man suspected of committing a pair of sex assaults in University City and Grantville, each of which left a woman hospitalized with traumatic injuries.

Jeremiah Ira Williams, 24, allegedly threatened the victims with a pistol and beat and choked both of them during the crimes, according to San Diego police.

Physical evidence and victim interviews allegedly implicate Williams in both crimes. He is described as a 5-foot-11-inch, roughly 180-pound black man with various tattoos, including images of wings on his upper arms, the number 210 on his right wrist and the outline of Texas on his left forearm.

The first of the two assaults occurred on the night of Aug. 13 in the 3900 block of Nobel Drive, near Westfield UTC mall. The perpetrator followed the 28-year-old victim through a parking structure to her apartment, where he knocked her to the ground, pulled a handgun and told her to give him money, Capt. Brian Ahearn said.

After the woman handed over some cash, the assailant choked her and dragged her into her residence, where he battered and sexually assaulted her before fleeing, authorities said. The woman was admitted to a trauma center for treatment of facial fractures and other injuries.

Three days later, sex crimes detectives were sent to Sharp Memorial Hospital to investigate a belated sex-assault report, Ahearn said. There, they interviewed a 23-year-old patient who described being attacked by an acquaintance at a motel in the 4300 block of Alvarado Canyon Road on the evening of Aug. 14.

The woman told police the assailant, whom she had just met, entered her rented room, throttled her, hit her on the head with a pistol and sexually assaulted her. When she began screaming for help, the man fled.

Detectives subsequently determined that officers responding to the report of the second assault arrived to find the victim gone. Nonetheless, they gathered evidence from the motel room for possible use in case a victim came forward, the captain said.

Police also determined that Williams had been detained on the night of the second crime by California Highway Patrol personnel who happened to be in the area when it was reported and spotted him in a nearby canyon.

Due to the lack of a victim and sketchy information about what had happened at the motel, Williams was let go with a citation for a gun violation, though his pistol was confiscated, Ahearn said.

It would be several days before detectives realized that two very similar assaults had occurred that weekend.

"Because of the similarities between the Nobel Drive case and the Alvarado Canyon Road case, investigators began to look at both cases as possibly being related," Ahearn said.

Authorities asked anyone with information on the suspect's whereabouts to call 911 immediately.