Woman sexually assaulted by armed man in east Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man has been arrested accused of sexually assaulting a woman and holding her a knife-point in east Austin on Nov. 6 around 11:49 p.m.

The victim told police she was walking in an unfamiliar area along Highway 290 and Interstate 35 when she was approached my an armed man identified as Thomas Merritt, 36. In the arrest affidavit the woman said he approached her near Cameron Road calling her names. Merritt then began shouting and placed her in a choke-hold putting a knife to her neck.

In a police interview the victim said he told her if she screamed he would kill her. Fearing for her life the victim said she was pulled into an alley near a Texas Land and Cattle Company restaurant. Once they were in the alley Merritt pulled down her pants and sexually assaulted her, according to the affidavit. During the assault the victim was also punched in the face.

The assault ended as a vehicle drove towards the alley. Searching for help, the victim went into a convenience store and used the phone to call 911.

Matching the description of the suspect, Merritt was arrested. He told police he was high on methamphetamines and did not engage in sexual activity that night. Police took swabs of the suspect and brought him in for a suspect line-up, where the victim confirmed Merritt as her attacker.

Merritt is being held on a $100,000 bond in the Travis County Jail and faces charges for a first degree felony.

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