Police still without a suspect in Beaufort hotel beating

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Police still without a suspect in Beaufort hotel beating

By PATRICK DONOHUE pdonohue@beaufortgazette.com 843-986-5531
Published Wednesday, April 22, 2009 in The Island Packet  |  585 Words  |  news

Beaufort Police say they know little about the man who attacked a Beaufort native the night before her wedding at a cottage at the Beaufort Inn.
Police are looking for a 25- to 30-year-old man, possibly Hispanic, about 5-feet-7 with long hair and a thin build, but have yet to publicly identify any suspects or persons of interest.
"We have a lot of information from the public that our investigators are following up on, but we are not far enough along yet that we can go public with any names," he said.
Rhyan Mazur-Williamson and her husband, Michael Williamson, 30, were staying at the inn Friday and were scheduled to be married the following day at Sea Island Presbyterian Church on Lady's Island. Upon returning to the cottage from a Bay Street restaurant at about 2 a.m., the woman said an unknown man jumped on her, covered her mouth and punched her repeatedly, causing multiple fractures to her nose and face. Mazur-Williamson will undergo corrective surgery next week to repair the fractures, she said.
The couple canceled their church ceremony. They instead were married in the backyard of the St. Helena Island home of the bride's parents after she was released from Beaufort Memorial Hospital. They also canceled their reception at the Oaks Plantation.
Investigators have determined how Mazur-Williamson's assailant entered the cottage on Port Republic Street.
"The suspect came in through that back window," Clancy said. "The window pane was shattered."
Michael Williamson is not considered a suspect.
Investigators believe that after Mazur-Williamson was attacked, another Beaufort Inn guest spotted the suspected attacker in his room. When confronted by the guest, the man left without incident, according to the police report.
"Our most recent timeline suggests that the suspect may have gone into that room and tried to hide after the attack," Clancy said.
That guest, a 50-year-old man, also called 911, but Clancy said that call was placed after Mazur-Williamson phoned for help at 3:05 a.m., Clancy said.
Mazur-Williamson told The Beaufort Gazette the incident happened before 2 a.m., though the police report indicates that she told investigators she was attacked between 2:30 a.m. and 2:57 a.m.
Police also await tests that could determine whether Mazur-Williamson was sexually assaulted. Clancy said a rape kit, along with several other pieces of evidence from the couple's cottage, have been sent to the State Law Enforcement Division's DNA lab in Columbia for processing.
Clancy said controlling the rumor mill surrounding the case has proved a difficult task for police.
"There's so much information and speculation out there," he said. "The family is understandably anxious about the case, but it's important for people to understand that we have a lot of information to go through right now, and this isn't like TV or the movies. This is a very complex case."
Neither the couple nor Mazur-Williamson's mother, Kathy Abraham of St. Helena Island, could be reached Wednesday for comment.
Dick Stewart, owner of the Beaufort Inn, believes his inn still is a safe place to stay.
"My initial thought when I heard what happened was that we've run a safe inn for the last eight or nine years, and nothing has changed," he said. "I haven't had any contact with (the Williamsons), but I've seen that they've been in the media generating the kind of publicity that you wouldn't typically associate with people who've just gone through a traumatic experience."