Stadium Road terror: Witness recounts abduction

With her parents in the Charlottesville General District Court offering support during the preliminary hearing of accused abductor Matthew Beaulieu, the alleged victim of the November 9 assault on Stadium Road steadily recounted the moments leading up to the attack.

"It happened so fast I couldn't react," the 19-year-old UVA nursing student told the court, describing the path she'd taken as she made her way back to her Stadium Road area apartment around midnight after an evening spent at UVA's Center for Christian Study on Chancellor Street.

Walking with her cellphone in hand along Alderman Road, the young woman, whose identity The Hook is withholding due to the allegedly sexually motivated nature of the crime, described seeing a car pulling out of a parking lot. The vehicle was behind her as she turned right onto Stadium Road, she recalled, then pulled ahead and suddenly stopped.

As she approached, she says, the attack was sudden.

"The man got out of the car dressed in all dark clothing," she testified, "then he proceeded to come toward me and grab me."

A violent struggle ensued, she testified, as the mask-wearing assailant pulled her by the shoulders and hair toward the vehicle, which she quickly recognized as a Hyundai Santa-Fe– the same kind of vehicle her father owns.

"He told me to stop screaming and be quiet," she recalled of her assailant, describing not only her physical efforts, which included attempting to bite him, but her verbal efforts to stop him. "I kept asking him questions," she said. "Why are you doing this?"

After unsuccessfully attempting to lift her into the back seat of his car "two or three times" as she begged him not to hurt her, the victim testified, her assailant gave up.

"He said, 'Fine,' and pushed me to the side," she testified. Then he drove away.

Gathering her belongings, she testified she ran the remaining few blocks home to her apartment where she immediately dialed 911 with a detailed description of her assailant including a description of the black Under Armour brand hooded sweatshirt he'd been wearing as well as a description of the maroon Santa Fe with Virginia plates. She also directed police to the scene of the assault where, she told them, her assailant had dropped a pair of handcuffs during the struggle.

According to the testimony of several police officers, the victim's specific description led to a multi-jurisdictional search of the area, and within minutes, Charlottesville Police Officer J.R. Lewis testified, he'd spotted a vehicle matching the description on Copeley Road. He followed the car as it turned right onto Ivy Road, then took 29 South to I-64 East, crossing from the City into the County.

Lewis recounted pulling alongside the SUV as they traveled east on I-64 and shining a sidelight into the vehicle.

"He matched the suspect description," Lewis said, noting he'd called for back-up as he continued to follow the vehicle but had not activated his emergency lights when the driver pulled off at exit 120 and stopped on the shoulder.

Within a minute, Lewis testified, he was joined by officers from Albemarle County Police and from the Charlottesville Police, and together they detained Beaulieu, whom he described as "cooperative," and searched his vehicle, where they discovered a black ski mask.

Beaulieu, Lewis said, admitted to the attack prior to being read his Miranda Rights, and the victim was brought to the side of the highway where she identified Beaulieu as her assailant. Charlottesville Police Detective Lisa Best later testified that Beaulieu restated his involvement in the attack in a videotaped police station interview, after being read his rights. Beaulieu is charged with abduction with intent to defile, a class 2 felony which carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. 

The 26-year-old Beaulieu, shackled, handcuffed, and dressed in a striped jailhouse jumpsuit, stared only at his hands during testimony and appeared to grimace periodically, as his attorney, André Hakes, focused her witness questioning on jurisdiction.

"Who placed him under arrest?" she asked Officer Lewis, after asking him several questions on the exact locations of city and county lines. Lewis testified he'd merely "detained" Beaulieu and that an Albemarle officer had made the actual arrest, but Hakes presented an "arrest worksheet" that showed Lewis' signature and again asked when the actual arrest had taken place.

According to Hook legal analyst David Heilberg, police officers in pursuit can cross jurisdictional lines within reason, and he suspects that Hakes is searching for a way to exclude Beaulieu's statement.

If the arrest is ruled improper, he explains, "Anything that was said after that might be illegally obtained. It would make it harder for Commonwealth for intent or state-of-mind issues, but it would not necessarily be fatal to the case."

In court, Hakes also argued that while there was sufficient evidence to certify an abduction charge, there was not enough evidence to justify an "intent to defile."

Charlottesville District Court Judge Bob Downer disagreed, and certified the charge to the Grand Jury, which meets February 19.

Reached by email, the victim declined comment.

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