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Man Arrested in Attack on N.Y. Woman, 73

NEW YORK (AP) — A homeless man was arrested Thursday in the brutal, broad-daylight rape of a 73-year-old woman in a serene part of Central Park.

Three rookie police officers took David Albert Mitchell into custody on Wednesday night after spotting him walking on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, not far from where the woman said the attack occurred.

The woman picked the 42-year-old Mitchell out of a lineup on Thursday, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. He was expected to be charged with rape, Browne added.

Police believe Mitchell was the same man captured in footage from police security cameras leaving the park with a backpack like the one carried by the woman. Browne said the suspect had some of the victim's belongings on him when he was picked up.

The woman, a birdwatcher, had told police she was attacked around 11 a.m. Wednesday in a wooded area near Strawberry Fields, a busy area that serves as a memorial to John Lennon. The woman told investigators a man threw her to the ground and attacked her, then made off with a backpack that contained her camera.

The woman told the New York Post in an interview published Thursday that the man also jumped on her back, pummeled her, grabbed her throat and threatened to cut her jugular when she screamed.

She had told police she thought the assailant was the same man she photographed masturbating about nine days ago in another, more isolated spot known as the Ramble. She said he demanded she delete the image and tried to grab her camera but didn't succeed. Police said that initial encounter wasn't reported.

She told the Post she feels jittery but is mostly enraged.

"Kill him. Cut off his penis. That's fine," she said. "Cut off his feet, then hit him over the head. Then give him life in prison."

She also vowed to return to the park that she loves.

"I hope he goes to jail for a long time, and he gets raped, over and over again," she told the newspaper.

Strawberry Fields is one of Central Park's busiest spots. It was named after the Beatles song "Strawberry Fields Forever" and was officially dedicated in 1985, five years after Mark David Chapman fired five shots outside the nearby Dakota apartment house on Dec. 8, 1980, killing Lennon.

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Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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