National News

Tampa felon faces charges of sexually assault and robbery of a spa worker

Posted December 27, 2017 11:56 p.m. EST

TAMPA -- Police said a 44-year-old man with a lengthy criminal record robbed and sexually assaulted a spa worker at knifepoint on Tuesday.

Bruce Darnell Wilson was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual battery with a deadly weapon and robbery with a weapon.

Police said they used surveillance video and fingerprints to identify and arrest Wilson. His fingerprints were on file because Wilson's criminal record goes back three decades, records show.

The victim was not identified by police. She works at Zen Therapy at 4610 N Lois Ave. Wilson showed up at the business just after 3:30 p.m., according to the arrest report.

He asked the employee behind the counter how much the spa's services were, police said. She told him that a 30-minute aroma therapy session would cost $50.

Then Wilson took a piece of peppermint candy from the counter and put it in his mouth. He started to cough and gag, police said

That, police said, was a ploy meant to distract the employee.

The employee handed Wilson a bottle of water. He asked for another. When she went into the back to get him another bottle, police said Wilson leapt over the front counter and grabbed her by the hair.

Wilson then placed a box cutter against the woman's back and demanded money, according to the arrest report. She gave him cash from a container on the counter, but police said Wilson told her "it was not enough."

He then pulled her by the hair into another room and sexually assaulted her, police said.

When a customer entered the spa, police said Wilson fled.

Police said they found Wilson's palm print and fingerprints on the counter. The employee identified Wilson in a photo lineup, police said, and they also obtained surveillance footage from the spa that captured Wilson inside the business.

He was arrested Wednesday at his home at 10007 14th N St.

State records show that Wilson has served three stints in state prison over three decades, in the 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s.

In the 1980s he was sentenced to nine years on charges that included aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon. In the late 1990s he was sentenced to 15 years for robbery and grand theft. He was freed in June 2012, records show.

In January 2016, Wilson was arrested on a charge of sexual battery. That was later reduced to misdemeanor battery, records show.

In July, records show he was arrested on charges of robbery home invasion, armed false imprisonment and tampering with a witness. The details and disposition of that case were unavailable.

In September, Wilson was arrested on a charge of sexual battery, two counts of kidnapping and one count of robbery. The details of those allegations were not available. Records show the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office declined to file charges and he was released Oct. 10.

Wilson was back in a Hillsborough County jail on Wednesday, being held without bail.

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Jonathan Capriel at jcapriel@tampabay.com. Follow @jonathancapriel.