Provo police ID suspect arrested after female hiker assaulted near Rock Canyon

Wayne Ray Leas. Photo: Utah County

PROVO, Utah, Nov. 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A 32-year-old man has been booked into the Utah County Jail after police say he admitted sexually assaulting a female hiker he followed into a restroom on the Rock Canyon trail.

Wayne Ray Leas was taken into custody Sunday night in connection with the assault of a 21-year-old woman on Nov. 7.

According to the probable cause statement, a call came in at about midnight from the woman, who said she had just planned to do a midnight hike with two male friends, and decided to use the restroom at the trailhead before meeting the friends.

“She stated she was in the bathroom stall when she heard a noise, but thought it was her back pack shifting from where she had set it in the stall with her,” the probable cause statement says. “She wasn’t sure if someone was in the bathroom with her but thought if someone was, it may just be her friend.”

“The victim stated she was exiting the bathroom and walked around the wall to get to the door of the bathroom and the male was standing just inside the door. She stated he had a knife in his right hand and he used his left hand to aggressively push her and pin her against the east wall of the bathroom. She stated he held the knife to her throat and told her to give him her cash.”

The woman said she had no cash. The suspect did not back down, so she reached into her backpack to show him she had no cash, and she secretly activated her phone and dialed one of her hiking friends, not speaking, but leaving the line open.

“She stated that the suspect told her that since she didn’t have cash he wanted ‘her ass.’ She stated he said ‘I want your ass.’ The victim stated she would repeat what the suspect would say so that her friend could hear the conversation on the open phone line.”

The statement says the victim stalled.

“The victim stated the suspect was getting upset and aggressively pulled at her pants until he succeeded in taking off her pants and pulling down the leggings and underwear that she had on under her pants.”

The statement says the suspect then began to touch the victim’s lower body, while continuing to hold her at knifepoint, at one point holding the blade against her neck.

The victim then heard her friends calling out for her. The suspect also heard them, and attempted to hide by the sink. The woman said she was able to pull up her underwear and leggings before her male friend walked into the restroom.

Seeing her pants on the floor, the friend asked the victim is she was OK, and he got close enough to see the suspect hiding with the knife.

The friend told the suspect to stay there as he left with the victim. Outside, the friend and victim saw the suspect come out of the restroom and head west, away from the trail.

Two days later, the victim and her friend worked with a Provo Police Department sketch artist, and police released a drawing of the man and images of knives similar to the weapon used.

Provo police arrested the suspect depicted in this sketch, who used a knife similar to those pictured. Images: Provo Police Department

On Thursday at 11:24 p.m., BYU police responded to a report of a suspicious man hiding in bushes on campus. That man was found to have a large knife.

When officers received the news release later, they realized the man in the bush matched the description of the man wanted in the Rock Canyon assault case.

A photo lineup was created, and the Rock Canyon assault victim and her rescuer separately were shown the images, and both identified Leas as the armed man in the restroom.

“Wayne was interviewed and confessed to attempting to rob and attempting to rape the victim at knife point in the women’s bathroom at the Rock Canyon Trail Head,” the statement said. “He stated he didn’t end up raping her but he did touch her “ass” and her vagina with his hands.”

“Wayne Leas has a criminal history which includes convictions of aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, and theft.”

Leas has been charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and forcible sexual abuse.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I really hope his prior convictions are allowed as evidence and that no D.A. approves a plea for this guy. It’s obvious he’s a threat to society. I hope a jury convicts him and locks him up. So glad that girl was smart and her friends were nearby!

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