By Joe Johnson
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department said on Sunday they received a report of an armed robbery, sexual assault, and kidnapping that occurred at Golden Pantry, 25 Tallassee Road.
An investigation revealed that a male suspect entered the business at about 11:45 p.m. and implied that he had a firearm. The suspect stole cash and other items from the business and sexually assaulted the 19-year-old clerk in the store's restroom.
The suspect then called for a Lyft driver and forced the clerk to go with him to various locations, eventually ending up at the Howard Johnson motel on West Broad Street, where police said the suspect held the victim against her will. The victim was eventually able to escape and call 911.
Patrol officers and investigative units immediately flooded the area. As a result of the "rapid response and intense investigation," police said, "officers were able to identify and locate the individual responsible for this violent assault within 45 minutes of receiving the report."
According to a police incident report, the suspect stole the victim's cellphone, and officers used the phone's GPS to locate the device in a trash container at the nearby Sr. Sol restaurant.
After hearing the phone pinging inside the bin, officers found the suspect hiding inside, concealed under bags of garbage, according to the report.
The suspect was identified by police as 51-year-old Melvin Scott Allison.
Allison’s last known address was in Jackson County but was believed to be homeless.
He was charged with armed robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery, and battery.
According to the police report, Allison had usually sat in the Golden Pantry without buying anything.
The victim reported that she always tried to be kind to the suspect, but her manager told her to be more stern with homeless people who were not purchasing items.
The alleged assault and robbery happened after the clerk told Allison to leave the property, according to the report.
As of Monday afternoon, Allison was being held at the county jail without bail being set.
The investigation is ongoing and police asked for anyone who has information regarding the incident to contact Detective Daniel Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org or (762) 400-7308.
Anyone that has been affected by sexual assault can receive support by contacting The Cottage at (877) 363-1912.