NEW YORK POLICE ARREST SUSPECT IN CASE OF WOMAN ATTACKED WHILE PRAYING
May 18, 2007
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — A widely played
surveillance video of a woman in a church pew warding off an attacker with her pen led to the arrest of a 44-year-old man,
police said Friday.
The unidentified 58-year-old
woman was praying at the chapel of St. Joseph's Church in this Hudson Valley city early Wednesday when she
fought off the attacker by stabbing him in the neck with a pen she was using to write in her journal.
The man ran off, but
the incident was recorded by the church's security cameras and broadcast on local television news.
John Michael Petry
was arrested Thursday evening after an off-duty firefighter spotted him riding a bike, recognized him from the news and called
police, Middletown Police Lt. Paul Rickard said Friday.
The tip from firefighter
Michael Benedetto was one of many police received after the video broadcasts.
"We actually had people
calling saying 'Hey, I think this guy is John Petry!"' Rickard said.
Petry faces felony
charges of attempted rape and sex abuse and misdemeanor charges of obstruction of governmental administration and resisting
arrest. He was in jail Friday on $100,000 bail.
Petry is a former psychiatric
patient who has been homeless off and on over the years and has an arrest record dating back to 1981, police said.
Middletown is 59 miles north of New York City.