Friday, May 2, 2008
Suspected ‘Wooded Rapist’ behind bars after 14-year search
BY ALEXAHINTON firstname.lastname@example.org
One of Nashville’s long-standing unsolved crimes may be over following the arrest of a man Metro Police say is the infamous “Wooded Rapist.”
Police on Thursday announced the arrest of Robert Jason Burdick, 38, of 314 Ash Grove Court as the suspect behind the vicious sexual attacks that spanned 14 years and three counties — Davidson, Williamson and Wilson.
Burdick, a Nashville business owner, is charged with five counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and one count of attempted rape in addition to six aggravated burglaries, police say.
The first known attack was March 1, 1994, when a man allegedly broke into a home in the 5000 block of Franklin Pike and raped a 38-year-old woman in the early morning hours, according to police reports. The nature of the crime and its close proximity to Radnor Lake, a popular forested hiking spot, sent shock waves through the community.
The next two attacks, according to police, apparently took place about five weeks apart in late 1998. In the first case, a man allegedly broke into an Otter Creek Road home on Nov. 20 and raped a 22-year-old woman; then on Dec. 29 the same man allegedly raped a 36-yearold woman in a Priest Road house. Police linked the crimes and media dubbed the attacker, which they now believe to be Burdick, as the “Wooded Rapist.”
“His particular pattern of behavior was that he would appear from out of the woods and secondly in many of the neighborhoods where he committed these tremendously inhuman acts occurred in wooded areas of sparsely populated parts of the county,” said Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas at a press conference yesterday. “[He raped women] in wooded areas, in the driveway, in the home.
Burdick is accused of attacking three other Davidson county women in their homes in 1999, 2000 and 2005 and police suspect he was involved in three other Nashville rapes — two in 2006 and one in 2007.
He has not been charged in Williamson County, but is suspected in at least three rape cases that occurred in 1999 and 2004. In one of those cases, Burdick allegedly broke into a home in the Mooreland Estates subdivision and raped a 48-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter the night of March 31, 1999.
The most recent rape was Feb. 1, 2008 and the victim was a 16-year-old girl who allegedly was raped outside her home, just off Highway 109 in Wilson County.
In all, Burdick is suspected in at least 13 rapes cases with victims ranging in age from 16 to 61.
Burdick is the owner of WB Technologies, 2201 Murfreesboro Pike, which specializes in burglar alarm technology. Its Web site, which featured a photo of Burdick above his e-mail address, said, “Our client base is impressive, we have proudly designed, installed and serviced systems for the US Military, Government Installations, US Postal Service, the United States Secret Service… Universities, major industrial, commercial, and residential facilities.”
Police could not say if Burdick’s knowledge of security systems could have aided his ability to break into the women’s homes.
Don Aaron, Metro Police spokesman, said officers had obtained a search warrant and were searching the company’s location during the 4 p.m. Thursday news conference announcing Burdick’s arrest.
A break in the case came Sunday night when a call was made to 911 that a suspicious person dressed in black, wearing a mask and carrying a flashlight was spotted in the Meadowlake subdivision in Brentwood, police said. Brentwood Police Officer Elliott Hamm responded to the call and stopped the Jeep Burdick was driving at 1:30 a.m. Monday.
Hamm, who has been on the Brentwood force for two years, said he was tipped off because Burdick “was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His car was parked in an odd place for that time of the night — especially on a Sunday night when it’s raining.”
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation DNA scientists linked Burdick’s DNA to samples taken at the crime scenes and Burdick’s arrest was ordered shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday morning, police said. Burdick was brought to Metro Police headquarters, where he refused to answer questions and was booked into the Metro jail without bond.
The Wooded Rapist was considered one of Middle Tennessee’s most wanted criminals and one of the largest and longest unsolved cases. Other known rapists, such as the “Green Hills Rapist” of the mid 1980s, had fewer victims and spanned fewer years, Aaron said.
“This selfish, heartless, inhuman criminal caused too much pain in our community and today is a good day that he is off the streets,” Serpas said. CP
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