Man arrested for attacking jogger on Northdale trail and stealing shorts caught after unrelated tip

Posted at 10:24 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 23:13:38-04

TAMPA -- The man accused of attacking a woman on a Northdale jogging trail and taking off with her shorts may have been brought to justice thanks to an alert neighbor.

Tampa man arrested for attacking woman on Northdale jogging trail

For weeks, all detectives had was a sketch of the man who violently assaulted a jogger. Many people were too afraid to even visit Northdale's Lake Park trail.

"We think that we're in a safe neighborhood and then something like that happens," resident Bo Haddle said.

But the reason 31-year-old Robert Hembree was caught ended up being completely unrelated.

Police: College student attacks jogger, stelas underwear

A neighbor saw a man damaging a speed enforcement trailer set up on Northdale boulevard near the trail. 

Deputies say Hembree ripped out wires, power converters, and a GPS transmitter. 

According to a warrant, the witness even caught him urinating on the trailer, then using his shirt to wipe away the mess, deputies say in an effort to destroy evidence. 

"He certainly sounds sick, what he did, but it is a relief to get him on the record," Bill Castens of the Northdale Civic Association said.

Hembree admitted to attacking the jogger, after deputies arrested him for theft and property damage. 

"I feel a lot safer and I think the people here feel a lot safer," Castens said.

Deputies say Hembree did $1,500 in damage to the speed trailer. He's now charged with sexual battery.