Horror averted: Affidavit says attack man carried 'rape kit'
Police have said the young woman who fought off an assailant in an attempted abduction on Stadium Road may have saved her own life. Now, new information about a "rape kit" that police recovered from the alleged perpetrator, 26-year-old Matthew Rene Beaulieu, provides harrowing support for that contention.
Inside the red 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe that Beaulieu was driving, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, investigators recovered handcuffs, duct tape, and a butcher's knife.
The attack occurred in the early hours of Friday morning, the 9th of November, as the victim, a 19-year-old UVA student, walked along the 2200 block of Stadium Road near Runk Dining Hall. According to the affidavit, the assailant, wearing a black mask and a hooded black Under Armour shirt, stopped his car behind her as she walked and then got out and grabbed her and attempted to handcuff her as he dragged her toward his car. In the ensuing struggle, the handcuffs dropped and the suspect fled, only to be arrested a short time later by a Charlottesville police officer who spotted a vehicle that allegedly matched the victim's description.
"The officer was in the right place at the right time," says Charlottesville Police Captain Gary Pleasants, who identifies Fifth Street exit 120 just off I-64 as the site of the arrest and says it occurred after Officer Joey Lewis pulled up alongside Beaulieu's vehicle, shone a bright side-light into the car, and saw a driver matching the description of the reported attacker.
According to the affidavit, when Lewis asked Beaulieu if he knew why he'd been pulled over, the young man conceded that "it was probably because he just attacked someone."
Expressing relief that he'd been caught, according to the affidavit, the Palmyra resident didn't stop talking.
After getting taken to the police department for further questioning, Beaulieu waived his right to have an attorney present, according to the affidavit, and talked extensively about his proclivity for watching pornography as well as past sexual experiences with bondage. He allegedly attributed the attack to anger provoked by recently getting dumped by a girlfriend.
A UVA spokesperson says that Beaulieu worked for Aramark at UVA's Runk Dining Hall, a facility which stands near the attack scene. Beaulieu reportedly told police he'd taken a butcher's knife from the kitchen before his shift ended at midnight, and then had gone out looking for a woman walking alone.
"His intentions of abducting a woman was to make her feel pain like he feels it," the affidavit reads. Beaulieu further admitted he'd planned to cover her mouth with duct tape and "slap her around a bit."
According to the affidavit, Beaulieu downplayed his intentions as merely wanting a woman's "company" but upon further questioning conceded that he planned to rape her and "keep her for a few days," but he denied that he planned to kill.
While the intended victim escaped serious physical harm, the mother of another young woman whose story had a grimmer ending says she remains frustrated by the frequency of such incidents.
"Luckily, this had a good outcome, but it was luck," says Gil Harrington, whose daughter, Morgan Harrington, disappeared after leaving a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in October 2009. The 20-year-old's remains were later found on a remote Albemarle County farm, and the case remains unsolved.
"The increased regularity of such atrocities happening, I think, underscores the fallacy of what young people think– that it couldn't happen to me," says Harrington, who hopes what happened on Stadium Road will further raise awareness and help change a culture of denial that she believes allows such crimes to occur.
"It's happening to your neighbor, your suitemate, and your sorority sister," she says. "You have to shine the light on it."
Beaulieu, whose only immediately confirmable prior criminal charge is a marijuana possession from February, is currently held without bail and charged with abduction with intent to defile, a Class 2 Felony that carries a minimum sentence of 20 years. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 3 in Charlottesville District Court.