Walmart purchase linked sex assault suspect
Posted July 28, 2010 2:31 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2010 3:57 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — Investigators used a debit card purchase at a local Walmart to link a Garner man accused of kidnapping two women and sexually assaulting one of them, according to search warrants returned Tuesday.
Daniel Robert Muller, 24, of 1097 Black Angus Drive, faces two counts of first-degree kidnapping and one count each of first-degree sexual assault and attempted first-degree sexual assault in connection with two cases – one last week and another in May.
In the latest case on July 18, in which the victim was found wandering the streets of Selma, investigators recovered a broken shovel, as well as other evidence, from the attack scene, an affidavit attached to the search warrant for Muller's home and Jeep, stated.
Authorities found the same type of shovel at the Walmart Supercenter in Smithfield on July 23 and talked to a store employee who remembered someone buying a shovel, as well as condoms, rope, duct tape, knife, KY Jelly and a black button-down shirt, on the same day of the assault.
Police traced the debit card purchase to Muller and charged him with the crimes on Saturday, investigators said. He surrendered to authorities Sunday and was in the Johnston County jail Wednesday under a $350,000 bond.
In each case, investigators said, the victim accepted a ride from a man driving a light-colored four-door Jeep. Once inside the vehicle, the man showed a weapon and drove to a secluded area.
In the May 25 case in Smithfield, the woman was able to get away.
In the last attack, the driver of the Jeep put a handgun to the victim's leg and threatened to shoot her if she tried to get out of the vehicle and kill her if she screamed, the warrant stated.
The only item that investigators seized from their July 25 search was a black skull bandana with a lock, according to the warrant.
Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said Muller was hired as a recruit for the fire department on May 26 but that officials were in the process of dismissing him from the program because he had missed class time.