Next Score View the next score

    Arlington rape victim kept her wits during attack

    Bought time until police could arrive

    Essie Billingslea is a sex offender. He has pleaded not guilty in the attack.
    Arlington Police Department
    Essie Billingslea is a sex offender. He has pleaded not guilty in the attack.

    After the woman had been raped and assaulted in her apartment for more than an hour, her attacker demanded that she hand over her car keys. But the woman pretended she could not find them, quick thinking that bought enough time for Arlington police officers to arrive and arrest the assailant, according to newly released court records.

    The records about the rape last month of an Arlington woman, allegedly by a recently released convicted sex offender, reveal the harrowing details of what the victim endured, but also describe how she outsmarted her attacker.

    “Clearly, her presence of mind and creativity and survival skills worked to her advantage during this attack,” said Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan. Those factors “resulted in her survival,” he said.


    Essie Billingslea, a 45-year-old convicted rapist who won release from the Massachusetts Treatment Center last year after a jury deemed him no longer “sexually dangerous,” has been charged in the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated rape, kidnapping, home invasion, and assault and battery.

    Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
    Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    Arlington police applied for a search warrant June 5, four days after the alleged assault, because officers wanted to search his cellphone records, wallet, and his MBTA Charlie card. Investigators said in the search warrant application that they wanted a “complete record” of when Billingslea had been near the crime scene.

    On Wednesday, Cambridge District Court Judge Roanne Sragow unsealed the application for the search warrant following a Globe request to lift an impoundment order.

    It is unclear from the documents whether Billingslea and the victim knew each other before the alleged assault.

    Billingslea had told Boston police he was living at a homeless shelter in the city, where he moved after his March 2013 release from the treatment center. Homeless sex offenders must report once a month to police where they are staying, according to state law.


    The search warrant application gave a lengthy description of Billingslea’s alleged actions on June 1:

    Billingslea’s sister, who lives in Arlington, said he texted her at 6:22 p.m. to tell her he was on a bus on his way to visit. She told him she was not home and assumed he would just go back to Boston.

    But at 6:50 p.m., he appeared at the rear kitchen door of the victim’s house. When she opened the door, he allegedly punched her in the face, pushed her into the kitchen, and told her he was a hitman from New York who was there to kill her.

    He then took her to her bedroom where he allegedly blindfolded her and raped her.

    During the assault, he threatened several times to shoot her and placed a hard object against her spine and the back of her head, the documents said. At one point, the victim’s phone rang, and she told Billingslea that her boyfriend was on his way. He told her to answer the phone.


    The boyfriend could tell by the woman’s voice and odd responses to his questions that something was wrong. He hung up and called Arlington police, urging them to check on his girlfriend.


    As Billingslea allegedly forced the woman to look for her keys, a police car pulled up in front of the house.

    He then led the victim down the rear stairs of the apartment. By then, the blindfold had fallen off and the woman could see he was holding a large knife.

    Two police officers who gained entrance through a side door found Billingslea and the woman on the stairwell. Billingslea fled, but an officer caught him a block away, the documents stated.

    Ryan, the police chief, said police are still trying to figure out whether Billingslea had been living at his sister’s house, in violation of state registry laws.

    His sister told police that he did not live there but visited regularly, according to the documents. A witness later told investigators that he had seen Billingslea in the area several times in the six months before the attack. Billingslea was often on a porch, smoking cigarettes, the witness said.

    More coverage:

    6/7: Rape case shows challenge of tracking sex offenders

    6/6: Rapist’s victim unaware of release

    6/4: Most sex convicts do not win release

    6/2: 3-time convicted rapist charged in Arlington attack

    Maria Cramer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @globemcramer.