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What you need to know for 01/23/2017

Parolee indicted in vicious Colonie attack

Parolee indicted in vicious Colonie attack

A man taken into custody in a brutal knife attack on a Colonie woman has been indicted on attempted
Parolee indicted in vicious Colonie attack
James Sayers

A man taken into custody in a brutal knife attack on a Colonie woman has been indicted on attempted murder and assault charges.

Police identified the suspect Wednesday as James Sayers, 43, of Albany, a state parolee who was wearing an ankle bracelet at the time of the attack.

Sayers is accused of following the 50-year-old victim from a bus stop at routes 5 and 155 about 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11, then pulling her into a wooded area and attacking her.

The woman sustained life-threatening injuries, as she was stabbed in the face, head and torso and her throat was slashed. She also lost sight in one eye.

She was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Police have found no connection between Sayers and the woman other than they were on the same CDTA bus just prior to the attack, getting on at the same stop at Central Avenue and Quail Street in downtown Albany.

Police used video in the area, including from another CDTA bus, to retrace Sayers’ silent pursuit of the woman, police said. Police released still photos Wednesday showing the woman walking and a man believed to be Sayers following at a distance on the opposite side of the road.

The videos helped, but Colonie police Chief Steven Heider said it was recollections of witnesses to events before and after the attack that ultimately led police to identify Sayers as the attacker.

“It’s an extreme example of when old-fashioned police work meets technology,” Heider said. “You’re not going to solve crime by technology alone.”

Heider called the attack one of the worst he’s seen that didn’t result in death. The victim survived, he said, by fighting back against her attacker long enough for the knife to break. She then made enough noise in her weakened state to catch the attention of someone who lived nearby.

The victim didn’t know something was wrong until the attacker put his arm around her neck to drag her into the woods off Watervliet-Shaker Road, Heider said. She briefly lost consciousness and awoke to Sayers stabbing her with the knife.

“She literally fought for her life,” Heider said.

No one saw her being dragged into the woods. It is believed Sayers approached her during a break in traffic on the heavily traveled road, Heider said.

After the attack, Sayers calmly walked back to the intersection where the bus dropped them off and caught another bus back to Albany, Heider said.

Sayers was arraigned on the unsealed indictment Wednesday morning in Albany County Court. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Sayers is a Level 3 sex offender who was released on parole in May for a robbery conviction. He was on the sex offender list because of a 1986 rape conviction involving a child. He was 15 at the time.

Sayers was also monitored by a GPS ankle bracelet, which he wore at the time of the attack, Heider said. The tracking shows the person wearing that bracelet arriving and leaving from the attack scene.

The attack remains under investigation, but as of Wednesday, police said no sexual abuse is alleged.

Police canvassed the area in the day after the attack. The area includes several office buildings. The canvass included stopping drivers along the route to ask if they saw anything.

The canvass found people who saw the woman walking down the road. More importantly, one man reported seeing a man believed to be Sayers walking through a parking lot after the time of the attack. That information led them to evidence in the woods that helped identify Sayers as the suspect.

Parole officials had already started an investigation into Sayers, police said.

After returning to Albany, he removed his ankle bracelet. He was taken into custody Aug. 13 on a parole violation related to the ankle bracelet.

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