Robert E. Murphy – Repeat Sex Offender – Rapes woman on hiking trail next door

  • Conviction Date: 02/06/2002
  • Conviction Date: 09/25/2001

Bloomington police have arrested a man in connection with an attack on a woman who was running on the Rails to Trails path.

Robert E. Murphy, 27, faces preliminary charges of criminal deviate conduct, sexual battery, robbery, confinement and intimidation. He was booked into jail just after midnight Sunday.

Bloomington police were called just before 3 p.m. Saturday when a woman stopped three people on the trail to say she’d just been attacked. When police arrived, the witnesses were able to provide a description of a man seen running from the woods just before the victim emerged.

The man had a serious facial injury which witnesses described to police. His injuries were not received during the attack, police said.

Detective Sarah Carnes interviewed the victim before taking her to the hospital. While at the hospital, Carnes saw Murphy who had the type of injury described by witnesses. Carnes approached Murphy who said he knew nothing of the attack.

At the hospital, Murphy was accompanied by his girlfriend who was also interviewed by police. According to the police report, the girlfriend said she’d returned home at about 4:30 p.m. and found Murphy doing laundry, which was unusual.

The girlfriend said she saw numerous police officers in the area. When she asked Murphy what happened, he told her someone was attacked on the trail. He later told her that a woman was raped, according to the report. The woman said she thought it was unusual that he would know that since they had no police scanner, and the attack had not yet been reported by the media.

The 26-year-old woman told police she was running on the trail near Country Club Road when she was grabbed from behind. The attacker pulled the victim’s headband over her eyes during the attack. She was forced into the woods where her assailant forced her to perform sexual acts, police said. When she was initially grabbed, the suspect told her he wouldn’t hurt her as he was looking for money. He later threatened to kill her if she didn’t comply with his demands, police said.

During the attack, police said the suspect stole a food item and key from the victim.

Police used a K9 to track the suspect’s scent. The dog led police to South Madison Street, one block from Murphy’s residence, according to the police report.

Police executed two search warrants — one to obtain Murphy’s DNA and a second to search his home. During the search, police found clothing which matched those described by the victim and witnesses. The clothing was found in the dryer, police said.

Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff said patrols would be increased near the trail although it typically isn’t used as much now that the weather has turned cold. He said it appears the crime was one of opportunity since Murphy lives so close to the trail.

“There has not been a history of problems like this on the trail,” he said.

Diekhoff also commended the work of police officers including Carnes who was observant enough to notice Murphy at the hospital.

“I commend the officers involved that they did a good job on the case in arresting someone so quickly,” Diekhoff said.

Murphy was booked into the Monroe County Jail. Bond was set in Judge Marc Kellam’s court at $250,000 surety, $5,000 cash.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”

………Sarah Tofte

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  1. Inmate accused of rail-trail rape charged with intimidating jail nurse
    A 27-year-old sexual predator being held at the Monroe County Jail on charges of sexually assaulting a woman on Bloomington’s rail-trail path in December has been charged with threatening a jail nurse.

    Robert E. Murphy, being held on $250,000 bond on charges of criminal deviate conduct, sexual battery, robbery, criminal confinement and intimidation, now faces a second intimidation charge.

    According to court documents, he made threatening comments to a jail nurse on May 27.

    An affidavit filed by correctional officer Samuel Crowe says Murphy told the nurse that she had “better hope you watch your kids close. I know people on the streets and I will get them or you.”

    Another jail officer reported overhearing Murphy say he would “just have to start acting like I did in prison and start making weapons.”

    He also allegedly threatened to hit a jail officer with a chair and tore padding from the floor and walls of a segregation cell where he had been placed for his own safety after making the threats.

    Murphy is scheduled for a bench trial before Monroe Circuit Judge Kenneth Todd Aug. 3. He had intended to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, but withdrew that defense in May and asked for a trial before the judge as opposed to a jury.

    EARLIER: Man accused in rail-trail attack claims insanity

    EARLIER: Arrest made in sex attack along Rail Trail

    In a letter to The Herald-Times in March, written as a “last resort to trying to fight the injustice that is being bestowed upon my shoulders,” Murphy claimed he is innocent of the rail-trail attack.

    In the letter, he complains that his public defender and the judge are ignoring his desire for a quick and speedy trial the law guarantees.

    “It doesn’t seem to matter to them that I’m sitting in a jail cell rotting away for a crime that I did not commit,” he wrote. “I did not commit this crime against this lady.”

    In the letter, he asks that a lawyer come forward and take his case without charging him a fee. “After all, it’s an easy one to win.”

    This is not the first time Murphy has been charged with a brutal sexual attack against a woman.

    He served six years in prison for a 2001 attack on a woman in Wayne County. Police said the circumstances were similar to the assault he is charged with now.

    Murphy was released from custody in 2008 and ended up in Bloomington, where he was living on the south side of town with his girlfriend when he was arrested for the trail attack.

    The victim said Murphy ambushed her and dragged her into a wooded area adjacent to the trail, north of Country Club Road. Murphy was arrested a few hours later when a police officer interviewing the victim at Bloomington Hospital saw Murphy there and noticed he matched the description of the woman’s attacker.

    Murphy is classified by the state as a sexual predator.

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