Feds arrest January Southwest Gainesville rape suspect

Officials say the victim identified Nicholas Harrell in a line-up.

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:04 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:04 a.m.

Federal agents have arrested a suspect in the Jan. 1 rape of a woman in Southwest Gainesville.

Nicholas Edwin Harrell, 31, of 218 SE St. Johns St. in Lake City, was arrested in Lake City by the U.S. Marshal's Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force Jan. 14 on multiple warrants.

Among the warrants was one issued in Alachua County charging him with the sexual assault of the woman in Gainesville.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the woman told investigators her attacker was someone she met at a downtown bar and that she only knew him and a friend with him by their first names.

The victim was later able to identify the friend of her assailant by searching Facebook.

Sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey said detectives used the Facebook information to identify Harrell as a suspect. The victim later identified him in a photo line-up, Forgey said.

Deputies participating in the U.S. Marshal's Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force searched for Harrell for several days and finally located him in Lake City on Jan. 14 after conducting surveillance there.

Harrell was arrested on warrants issued by three North Florida counties. His bond has been set at $1 million. Harrell was being held at the Columbia County Jail on Wednesday.

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