by SEAN KIMMONS
A Florida man who authorities say kidnapped an Austin woman, then raped and stabbed her before leaving her for dead has been extradited back to Hays County, court records show.
Willie Griffin, 46, was handed over to the Hays County Sheriff’s Office last week following a manhunt by the U.S. Marshals Office in early April.
On March 15, a 17-year-old woman was found naked on the side of U.S. 290 near Dripping Springs with 10 stab wounds to the chest and abdomen, investigators say.
While at the hospital, the teenager told authorities that a man matching Griffin’s description picked her up at a bus stop on Manor Road at about 9:30 a.m. and drove her almost 40 miles to a secluded, wooded area along the highway, an arrest affidavit says.
The man, she says, brandished a seven-inch kitchen knife, ordered her out of the white SUV and raped her. After the sexual assault, the teenager tried to flee but fell to the ground. The man hovered over her, she says, and began to choke her until she passed out. When she awoke, the man stabbed her several times, she says in the report.
In a desperate effort to stay alive, the teenager told investigators that she “played dead” for around 15 minutes before the man took off.
A few days later, investigators released a composite sketch of the suspect, and five tips came forward naming Griffin as the unknown man, the affidavit says.
Further probing revealed that Griffin borrowed a white Mitsubishi Montero from a friend the same day of the assault. The friend informed authorities that there was a stain on the driver’s side rear floorboard that reeked of gasoline. When Griffin returned the vehicle, he told the friend that his SUV ran out of gasoline so he bought a gas can, according to the affidavit, written by Det. Mark Opiela.
After Griffin’s arrest in Pensacola, Fla., the Hays County Sheriff’s Office collected DNA and other evidence that tied Griffin to the assault, the report says.
When interrogated, Griffin denied giving a ride to anyone or leaving Austin that day, instead saying that he ran errands but wouldn’t give any further details. Detectives then showed Griffin security footage of him fueling up the SUV and gas can at the Dripping Springs HEB grocery store. Griffin reportedly replied, “I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear,” the affidavit says.
Later, a search warrant at Griffin’s former home in Pflugerville recovered a new gas can, matching the ones sold at the Dripping Springs store, investigators say.
Griffin has been charged with attempted capital murder, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping. He faces life in prison if convicted. He remains in custody at Hays County Jail on bonds worth $650,000, jail records show.
SEAN KIMMONS reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.Email | Print