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Orange County

Sex Offender Arrested in San Clemente

Woman assaulted, prompting a 6-hour search. Man being held committed an earlier attack in the city.

September 26, 2003|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

Orange County sheriff's deputies spent more than six hours searching for a man who they say assaulted a San Clemente woman in her home Thursday before arresting a convicted sex offender whom they found hiding in some brush nearby.

The victim, a 58-year-old woman, was ironing clothes in her living room about 7 a.m. when an intruder struck her in the head, either with his fist or with a blunt object, according to Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo.

When the woman screamed, the masked, barefoot man ran from the house on Calle Castillo. The woman, her husband and some construction workers chased the man but were unable to catch him.

For the next six hours, about 50 sheriff's deputies joined the search, Jaramillo said.

Investigators eventually found a footprint in a nearby ravine, followed it and arrested William John Horner on suspicion of burglary and assault, Jaramillo said.

Horner, 43, of Calaveras County, had previously been convicted of assault with intent to commit rape for another attack in San Clemente, officials said. He was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison and paroled in 1999.

"He hid in an area where it appeared he was trying to wait out the police. We weren't going to be waited out," Jaramillo said.

During the search, investigators identified Horner as a possible suspect by checking dozens of license plates from cars in the neighborhood; they identified one vehicle owner, Horner, as a convicted sex offender, Jaramillo said.

"It was such a terrifying crime in such a safe neighborhood," Jaramillo said. "No matter what it took, this individual would be caught."

Horner was being held Thursday at the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana.

Sheriff's investigators plan to present the case to prosecutors this week to consider filing charges, Jaramillo said.

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