SCOTLAND NECK, N.C. — The arrest of a man accused of raping a woman and robbing church members who tried to help him brought sighs of relief on Wednesday in the small Halifax County community of Scotland Neck.
Forty-five-year-old William Skolsky's was recently arrested in Orange County, Fla., where authorities said he was trying to pawn stolen goods. The subject of a nationwide manhunt, Skolsky had been on the run for more than five months.
"I feel a sense of being free again," said Patricia King. "I don't have to lock a door every time I walk out of it or look over my shoulder."
Police said Skolsky forced King back into her home as she prepared to walk her dog, then raped her and robbed her of her jewelry.
"You don't think -- especially in our little community where everyone knows each other, living so close to my in-laws -- you could go outside in your yard, walk around the corner of your home and something like this happens," she said.
Skolsky had just finished serving a 14-year prison term in Halifax County for kidnapping when a local church group offered to help him start a new life. They gave him shelter, money and a job.
Authorities said he became friends with members of the church group. Then, he allegedly stole their money and possessions.
"(I) never dreamed that somebody that was setting next to you in church would do something like that," said King's mother, Judy Osborne.
All of her family jewelry was stolen while the family was at church. Despite their ordeal, they are sticking with their resolve to help those who need it.
"No, it hasn't changed my heart about wanting to help people, and this may sound strange, it makes my heart sadden that we couldn't help Bill," King said. "I hated that all this has happened."
According to the Halifax County Sheriff's Office, Skolsky's old habits led to his capture.
"He was caught in a pawn shop trying to pawn some stolen items from a burglary," said Chuck Hasty with the sheriff's office. "He befriended some people and then took advantage of them, also."
It was not clear when Skolsky will be back in Halifax County to face charges. He faces a number of charges in Florida, including burglary and trying to sell stolen goods.