The NYPD says the man who ambushed a 27-year-old jogger in Central Park on Thursday, chocked her until she lost consciousness and raped her, has been arrested.
Police took Paulie Velez, 25, into custody in Queens overnight, almost two days after the viscous park attack. He faces half a dozen charges including rape, strangulation and sex abuse.
While being escorted out of the 5th Precinct early Saturday morning, Velez said he was not responsible for the crime he'd been arrested for.
The NYPD stepped up patrols in Central Park Friday, a day after the woman jogging near Swan Lake, not far from the Wollman Ice Rink, was ambushed by a man wearing all black, choked until she lost consciousness and raped.
The attack happened just before 7:30 a.m., at a time the iconic Manhattan park is typically bustling with runners, dog walkers and people headed to work.
Velez, who is homeless, was tracked down by police thanks to a tip submitted to Crimestoppers, a senior law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the case told News 4. The 25-year-old used to live in Florida where he'd been arrested for sexual assault, the official said.
Police said the Central Park suspect appears to be a different man from the convicted rapist who attacked a woman near 103rd Street and the FDR Drive about 45 minutes after the Central Park attack.
That suspect, age 38, was released from prison three days ago for a rape committed in 2005, according to the NYPD, and has a lengthy criminal record. He faces attempted rape, strangulation and forcible touching charges.
His name has not been released, and though authorities say there does not appear to be a link between him and the Central Park case, they're still "exploring all angles."
No details on the condition of the woman attacked near FDR Drive were provided. The woman in the Central Park case was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
John Miller, the NYPD's deputy commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism, said she came running out of a trail after she said she had been attacked and flagged down passersby, who found park police. The man in black was gone.
Anyone with information on him is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.