Sarpy County Sheriff: West Omaha rape suspect in custody

Stephen Prior said to be targeting medical workers
Posted at 9:44 AM, Oct 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-20 22:41:43-04

The search for a man suspected of raping a woman Wednesday night in her West Omaha home ended Friday when Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis confirmed the man deputies were looking for had been taken into custody.

Deputies had been searching for Stephen R. Prior, 52, named as a suspect not only in the rape but in connection with other criminal activity in the area, Davis said a few hours earlier, during a press conference Friday afternoon.

Davis would not go into detail about the circumstances of his arrest or about how Prior was located, but did later confirm that Prior was also the robbery suspect caught on a homeowner's camera last week in the Tiburon area

"We believe they are related," Davis said Friday evening.

Prior is thought to also be a suspect in two other sexual assault cases reported in Omaha this past year, Davis said. Omaha Police Officer Phil Anson said Friday evening that OPD was in the process of looking into those cases, but "at this time, I can't confirm" whether Prior is a suspect.

Earlier on Friday, Davis said the sexual assault suspect had been targeting women in medical professions, had been known to stake out homes and had a police scanner in his car.

"We believe he is very dangerous," Davis said at the afternoon press conference. "He is armed, not only with a handgun, we believe, but also with a knife."

Sarpy County Sheriff's Department issued a press release just after 6 p.m. stating that Prior had been taken into custody "without incident" about an hour earlier.

On Thursday, Davis held a press conference to get the word out that deputies were looking for a man suspected of breaking into a home and raping a woman late Wednesday night.

At Friday's press conference, Davis gave an update on the search, providing media with the identity of a suspect as well as a sketch, photo, physical description, and previous charges. Prior was described as a 6-foot-tall white man weighing approximately 180 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes possibly wearing headgear, dark clothing and a windbreaker. 

HOW TO HELP: If you have any information you believe could help in this case, call Sarpy County Crimestoppers at 402-512-STOP.

Prior is facing charges of first-degree sexual assault forcible rape, burglary, robbery, possession of a firearm while committing a felony, and first-degree false imprisonment. He was previously convicted and served time for three counts of felony burglary, two counts of felony robbery, and second-degree forgery, according to records obtained from the Nebraska Department of Corrections.

Authorities had been searching door-to-door for Prior since about 4 a.m. Thursday, after a deputy spotted a man matching the suspect's description in the area of 150th and Giles. Members of the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office, Papillion Police Department, Bellevue Police Department and Nebraska State Patrol were on the scene between Giles and Chandler and 144th and 156th.

Friday morning, a vehicle believed to belong to Prior had been found at Springhill Ridge Apartments, but Davis said earlier that Prior does not live there.