Rape and robbery suspect now behind bars

SARPY COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) - Authorities in Sarpy County have arrested Stephen Prior, 52, the suspect in a rape and robbery near 156th and Giles Road on Wednesday.

The arrest was made at approximately 5 p.m. Friday, less than two hours after Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis named Prior as their suspect in the case.

Prior was taken into custody without incident and booked on five charges:

  • Sexual Assault/Forcible-1st-Degree
  • False Imprisonment
  • Possession of a Firearm while Committing a Felony
  • Robbery
  • Burglary

Sheriff Davis named Prior as their suspect during a 3 p.m. news conference Friday. He has a criminal history, spending 8 years in prison for crimes including forgery, burglary, and robbery.

He is also named in a protection order in Douglas County as well as several earlier protection orders.

At the Friday news conference, the Sheriff's Department released a sketch of the suspect created with help from the victim in the Wednesday incident and released a picture of Prior from an earlier case.

Investigators said that the victim of Wednesday's assault has shown exceptional bravery in a difficult case and has provided extremely helpful information.

The Sheriff said that during that attack, a masked man they believe to be Prior, got into the home without any forced entry. He was armed with a gun. Investigators say that what followed was the rape and robbery of the victim. They say the assailant stayed there for more than an hour.

Early Friday morning, a Sarpy County Deputy encountered a man who fit the description of the suspect in the Wednesday assault. The deputy approached him, the man ran and that triggered a multi-agency manhunt over the next several hours.

Authorities identified a white, 4-door Lexus as a vehicle they believe belonged to the suspect. The car was located and impounded.

Investigators say Prior avoided capture in the Friday morning search with the help of a portable scanner that allowed him to monitor law enforcement communications.

Investigators say they are not sure if Prior tracked the victim before the Wednesday assault or if it was a random act but they believe he might be connected to other sexual assaults in the area - all with a common thread. Each of the victims worked in the medical field.

Authorities say that Prior lives in the neighborhood of 156th and Giles where this week's attack happened. They say he has an apartment and a house there.