Officers Recall Capture of Rape Suspect

Parks Enforcement Patrol officers Luis Cabezas aided in the capture of a rape suspect Saturday, Sept. 22.


Daniel Murphy, along with another PEP officer, helped nab a rape suspect in the Hudson River Park.Parks Enforcement Patrol officers Monday morning told how they helped capture a rape suspect in the Tribeca section of Hudson River Park on Saturday.

Officers Daniel Murphy and Luis Cabezas said they had just come on duty in the park around 5 a.m. when the victim came running towards them almost immediately after the attack, screaming that she had been raped.

“She ran towards us completely naked,” Murphy said. “My partner [Cabezas] saw the suspect and took off after him. I put her in the back seat, covered her with a blanket and took off.”

“She was distraught, very distraught,” he said.

Murphy said the suspect, Jonathan Stewart, 25, was shirtless and silent when he was cornered about a block away, lying down in the West Street median at North Moore Street.

“NYPD got him but we were in pursuit of him and we cornered him onto the median,” Murphy said. “He had nowhere to go.”

Murphy said only about three minutes elapsed between the attack and the suspect’s capture.

“You were here when we really needed you,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who stood with the officers at a news conference in the park Monday morning. “And thank God for that.”

Madelyn Wils, president of Hudson River Park Trust, said this was the first incident of violent crime in the park.

“We’re very grateful that we have our PEP officers here,” said Wils, who called Hudson River Park one of the best protected in the city. “The park opens at 6 a.m. and yet we do have our officers here all day and all night long and it was because of that that the victim was taken care of right away and the perpetrator was apprehended very quickly.”

Police say the victim was sitting on a park bench when Stewart sat down beside her and engaged her in conversation. Stewart then hit the woman in the face, tried to strangle her and then dragged her into the bushes and sexually assaulted her, according to police.

Stewart is a registered sex offender who was released from prison on parole last year after serving seven years for sexually assaulting a woman. He is listed on the state's sex offender registry with a July address at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on East 125 Street. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation and on Monday was awaiting arraignment.

The victim was taken to an area hospital in stable condition, according to police, and reportedly has been released.

Stewart is charged with first degree rape among other related crimes.