A 26-year-old man allegedly raped and beat a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and pretended to be an innocent bystander after the attack, police said.
According to the Madison Police Department, Brandon Thompson, 26, was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual assault, intentional injury and strangulation in connection with the “horrific” assault that left a young woman alive.
“This case will not be closed until this cowardly attacker receives the justice he deserves,” Chief Shon Barnes said at a news conference.
Thompson was arrested three days after she allegedly threw herself on the student at around 3:30 a.m. as she was walking through the college town’s business district
The suspect is said to have broken the woman’s jaw and caused her “life-threatening injuries” in a brutal sexual assault that police said was a “top priority” for the department.
Thompson was said to be at the scene after abusing the young woman and spoke directly to an eyewitness, who rushed to the victim after hearing a “commotion.”
“Thompson told this witness that he ‘just found’ our survivor and was pretending to be an innocent bystander,” Barnes said.
However, he refused to stay and drove off in a black sedan before police could arrive.
Although police collected DNA and other physical evidence at the scene, the community home surveillance footage led them directly to Thompson.
“Using this video, investigators were able to read a license plate that led directly to the identification of Brandon Thompson as the perpetrator of this attack,” said Paige Valenta, the department’s deputy investigative director.
Police made the arrest early Wednesday while Thompson was seeking “medical treatment” for unknown injuries, although police could not say if these were related to the crime.
Thompson, who lives in Madison, has no criminal record. It was not clear if he was involved in previous violent incidents.
Officials don’t believe there’s a connection between Thompson and his victim – he likely saw them walking through college town and decided to attack them.
Another local resident claimed she was “snatched” off the street by a stranger and dragged between two houses in the hours before the attack.
“I think it’s one of the scariest things about it,” Barnes said.
The victim, a woman in her 20s, was expected to survive her injuries. Her condition was initially classified as critical.
The attack by a stranger sparked an intense police investigation, with police stepping up patrols in the area.
Campus police urged students to use university security measures available to them and to travel in groups, especially at night.
University Police Chief Kristen Roman reminded the community that the horrific assault was “extremely rare” in the Midwestern city.
“But when they happen, we come together in anger, in sadness, sometimes in fear, but always in support,” Roman said.
“The violence perpetrated against this young woman on Sunday morning was appalling and will not be tolerated. This isn’t Madison. That’s not UW Madison.”