Center City Philadelphia Rape: Alert nurse, social media post help Washington Township police locate Willie Harris

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — A man accused of raping a woman in an office building in Center City Philadelphia was taken into custody in South Jersey Thursday night, according to police.

The Washington Township Police Department in Gloucester County credits social media and a vigilant nurse with assisting in the search for the suspect, identified as 49-year-old Willie Harris.

“We made the social media post around 9 p.m. and he was in custody at 11 p.m.,” Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik said.

Harris was arrested two days after the incident.

The attack happened around 2:14 p.m. Tuesday at a law office on the 200 block of North 13th Street.

Police say a 22-year-old woman was raped while her colleague was at lunch. They were the only two working in the office at the time.

Philadelphia police released surveillance video of Harris.

The video allegedly shows the suspect casually entering and exiting the office building before the attack.

As soon as he entered the building, police said the suspect went to the 8th floor and entered the unlocked law office.

The man said he was looking for someone, but the victim said she didn’t know the name, according to Captain James Kearney of the Special Victims Unit. The man then asked the victim to sit on a chair.

Harris then allegedly began searching the office, and the victim offered to give the man her Airpods and earrings in hopes he would disappear.

He then got angry and hit and choked the victim as she tried to scream for help, police said.

Kearney said the suspect then raped the victim.


The attack was interrupted when the colleague got back to the office. The suspect then fled.

Authorities noted that Harris was sighted in Woodbury, New Jersey on Wednesday.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Washington Township Police Department received information that Harris was spotted on Egg Harbor Road near the Xpress Mart.

Detectives went to this location and retrieved surveillance video of Harris standing at the bus stop.

Police then released a post on social media titled “Be on the lookout” with Harris’s picture around 9 p.m

It has been shared thousands of times.

Within an hour, a nurse at Jefferson Washington Township Hospital called police and said she believed the suspect was in the hospital and had just been discharged.

Officers found him outside on a bench and arrested him.

“An observant nurse here at the hospital saw (the social media post) on her shift and immediately notified hospital security and the police. We were there within a minute or two and picked him up and took him into custody without incident,” Chief Gurcsik said.

After the arrest, police updated the social media post with the words: “Thank you to our attentive community of followers who saw and shared this social media post.”

They included a photo of Harris with the words “in custody.”


The boss says Harris will likely be held in the county jail and extradited to Pennsylvania.

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