The man police say attacked a woman and tried to drag her away in Burlington — allegedly an attempted kidnapping seen on surveillance video and thwarted by a good Samaritan — appeared in court Wednesday.
Tyler Healey, 23, was arrested Tuesday in Winthrop. In Woburn District Court on Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty to charges of attempt to commit a crime (kidnapping), assault with intent to rape, assault with intent to commit a felony and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or older.
Prosecutors said Healey was turned in with the help of his father, who called police after he recognized his son in the photos they'd released.
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The father told police early Monday morning that he saw Healey — with whom he doesn't speak regularly — walking toward Burlington Sunday evening, according to court documents. Later, he recognized his son in the photo of the suspect on the news, telling officers, "I was 99.9% sure it was Tyler."
The judge ordered Healey be held without bail through a dangerousness hearing next week. He also revoked bail for another matter in Waltham District Court, and mentioned that Healey has a Framingham probation matter.
Prosecutors said they were still gathering police reports to detail his criminal history.
Authorities had been searching for the person seen on video trying to drag away the woman on foot Sunday night about 8:30 p.m. near Middlesex Turnpike and Great Meadow Road. Officials had previously credited the arrest to a tipster who recognized the suspect from the surveillance video and photos released after the attempted abduction.
"When you see something that doesn't seem right to you, make that phone call to the police," Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said.
The man, allegedly Tyler Healey, fled on foot, after appearing to have been startled by a driver parking her car nearby — she called 911 and has been called a good Samaritan. The 37-year-old victim was able to get away from the kidnapper, and police located her shortly after the call.
“The victim in this case did nothing wrong, she was just minding her business trying to walk home," Burlington Police Chief Thomas Browne said, adding that all indications were that the attack was random and violent.
Investigators allege that, during the attack, Healey grabbed the victim, touched her indecently and dragged her. At some point during the struggle the victim's shirt came off.
"This was a crime of opportunity and we need to make sure that we take opportunities away from people like this," Browne said.
Burlington police previously said they believe the 911 caller spooked the attempted kidnapper, who ran off down Great Meadow Road, jumping the fence into a Department of Public Works yard. That was the last video evidence police say they have of the suspect. That 911 caller's callers actions are believed to have stopped something much worse.
"Her efforts were heroic. She put herself in harm’s way and allowed us to get there and take over and, thankfully, nothing worse happened," Browne said.
People who live, work and visit the area, which is not far from the Burlington mall, had been stunned by the incident.
"It's heart-wrenching to see when people would take advantage of other people like that," said one resident, Richard Maliawco.
Burlington residents Jack and Sarah Nagle relieved police were able to catch the suspect.
"It's horrifying to think about, but obviously, thank god for the community presence and that people had their wits about him were able to step in," said Jack Nagle.
"Scary that it happened here. But it definitely makes me feel better not to have to worry about it, at least for this individual," added Sarah Nagle.
Investigators brought in a K-9 unit from the Essex County Sheriff's Department, a drone and infrared camera, but weren't able to track the attempted kidnapper down Sunday night.
"This is a wake-up call for all of us," Browne said on Monday. "We need the public to be vigilant. Everybody thinks this type of thing doesn’t happen in Burlington, and usually it doesn’t, right? But we all need to be mindful that this, in fact, can happen anywhere."