March 18, 2008 -- A Panama City, Fla., hotel security guard was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with raping an 18-year-old student on spring break and then throwing the woman off a sixth-floor balcony, police told ABC News.
The woman survived the harrowing ordeal and is in stable condition at an undisclosed area hospital, authorities said. Her name was not released because she was the victim of a sexual assault.
Shawn Wuertly, 29, was arrested Tuesday after Bay County Sheriff's deputies found him hiding in the woods near a relative's home, according to Panama City Beach, Fla., Police Major Dave Humphreys, who is leading the investigation.
The young woman, a Tuscaloosa native and reportedly a student at the University of Alabama, was in town for spring break with friends. The trouble started on Monday when Wuertly allegedly began making suggestive comments to the college student, who Humphreys said rebuffed the advances.
"He was basically kind of flirting with her, making some comments to her that, it was obvious to her, he liked her,'' Humphreys said. "She was polite and walked away.''
But around 1 a.m. Monday morning, Wuertly allegedly grabbed the woman in a hallway of the Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort in Panama City, and allegedly forced her into an unoccupied room using a hotel passkey. Wuertly attacked the woman and a struggle ensued, Humphreys said.
"She's attempting to get away and there's a struggle outside the room and there's a stairwell — it's an exterior stairwell and at some point in the struggle he pushes or pulls or drops her off the side,'' Humphreys told ABC News.
"She fell some distance to a metal roof that came off the side of the building. From there she fell to another roof that was lower, and from there to a second floor stairwell."
"In essence, these rooftops probably saved her life,'' Humphreys said.
The woman was able to make some initial statements to police implicating Wuertly, Humphreys said. Police questioned him but didn't have enough evidence at the time to charge him, and he was released. A subsequent police interview with the woman at the hospital provided more information and an arrest warrant for Wuertly was issued Monday.
A manhunt ensued. Bay County Sheriff's deputies located Wuertly hiding in the woods near a relative's house, and he was apprehended without a struggle.
"They snuck up on him and he was hiding in the woods and by the time he knew they were there they had him [in custody].''
A front desk supervisor at the Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort said the hotel had no comment about the incident.