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Police: Suspect in Multiple Assaults Was Determined

Posted November 28, 2006

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— A man charged with assaulting three women in less than three hours was aggressive and determined, and the women are lucky they got away unharmed, authorities said Monday.

A Raleigh police officer arrested Mario Devans Sauls, 34, on Thanksgiving night just hours after the alleged attacks. He is charged with two counts of attempted kidnapping, one count of attempted murder and two counts of assault.

Earlier in the evening, at about 6:15 p.m., Lila Russell, 75, was saving a parking space for her husband near the Irregardless Café on Morgan Street in Raleigh when she was attacked.

“I (found) his hand on my mouth, somebody behind me with his hand on my mouth," Russell said. "So, I screamed and my screams were very loud.”

Russell, a retired college professor, said she had seen the man, now identified as Sauls, approaching, but thought nothing of it because she had always felt safe in downtown Raleigh. She even said “hello” before he grabbed her. But after she screamed she fell to the ground injuring her hand and forehead. She said he simply walked away.

At about 8 p.m. the same day, Amber Clark, 26, was walking her dog near Cameron Village in the 300 block of Woodburn Avenue when, she said, a man, now identified as Sauls, grabbed her and tried to pull her into his white pickup truck.

“(He) gave me a bear hug and started pulling me toward his car,” Clark said.

She said at one point in the struggle he pulled her jacket over her head, and she began screaming.

“I started screaming at him, you know, 'What do you think you're doing? What's your problem? Why would you do this to somebody?'" she said. "That's when he pointed at me and said, 'You're lucky you're not dead.'”

Then, Clark said, the man got in his car and drove away slowly, even pausing at the stop sign and using his turn signal.

In the third incident, Garner police said Elizabeth Davis, 20, of Fuquay-Varina, was shopping at Super Kmart. At about 9 p.m., they said, she loaded her groceries into the car and was getting ready to leave when the suspect, now identified as Sauls, tried to force his way into the car. She put it in reverse and hit him with the door. Davis told police he then got into his car and left.

Sauls was arrested at about 11 p.m. in Raleigh. Investigators said that had Sauls not been captured, the list of victims might have been longer.

“Apparently, this person was determined to commit this crime," said Garner police Sgt. Joe Binns. "Location was all he was looking for, and it didn't matter to him where he was going to find his victim”

Sauls is in the Wake County Jail under a $500,000 bond. Investigators are asking anyone with information about the alleged assaults to contact local authorities.

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