Tampa rape suspect caught

TAMPA — After a daylong search, police caught a registered sexual predator they say assaulted a woman early Saturday morning while holding a screwdriver against her throat.

Tommy Lee Sailor, 37, who has spent most of his adult life in prison for crimes including sexual battery, robbery and battery of a law enforcement officer, raped a woman he took home from a bar Friday night, Tampa police say.

Sailor was released from prison in July with an ankle monitor. According to his parole guidelines, he wasn't supposed to have left his house Friday, said Tampa police Lt. Donny Peters.

Sailor went to Tilley's, a bar on Commerce Street in Tampa, where he met the victim, Peters said. They left at last call, at about 2:45 a.m., and went party hopping, Peters said.

At about 4 a.m., the two went to Sailor's house at 7408 S O'Brien St. in Tampa, near MacDill Air Force Base. While they were in his bedroom, Sailor became violent and made unwanted sexual advances, police said. He then grabbed a screwdriver and raped the woman, who is not being named due to the nature of the crime.

She fought back and was able to call 911 on her cell phone. She dropped the phone, but the call had already connected. Dispatchers were able to track the call, which led police to Sailor's home.

Officers forced their way into the house, and Sailor jumped out a back window and ran away. Officers and police dogs were initially unable to track him down.

The Florida Department of Corrections was monitoring Sailor's parole. Police and corrections officials gave differing accounts Saturday of when probation officials were notified that Sailor had left his house.

A probation officer who was on call, Pam Compton, arrived at Sailor's house after police were already there, said Peters, the Tampa police lieutenant.

Peters said Compton told officers that she had received a notice at about 2 a.m. that Sailor had left his home. She tried to alert him twice, she told officers, but he did not respond, so she went to his house.

However, state corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said it appears that the probation officer went to Sailor's house immediately after she was notified at 4:54 a.m. that he had run away.

"We've done a cursory review … and at this point it looks like the probation officer handled everything according to policy," she said.

Sailor was at large for most of Saturday until Tampa police officers arrested him minutes before 9 p.m.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Tampa rape suspect caught 01/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 10:11pm]

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