Barking Dog Helps Police Nab Rape Suspect - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Barking Dog Helps Police Nab Rape Suspect

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Doug and Sharon Cuyler Doug and Sharon Cuyler
Christa Cuyler, holding her daughter Christa Cuyler, holding her daughter
Robert Burdick Robert Burdick
Elliott Hamm, Brentwood police officer Elliott Hamm, Brentwood police officer

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - For 14 years, Midstate lawmen chased the elusive "Wooded Rapist," a man they believed committed at least 13 rapes.

This week, a barking dog drew attention to him. A 10-pound dog and an astute couple from out of town helped give police a major break in this case.

Sharon and Doug Cuyler were visiting their son and daughter-in-law in Brentwood Monday when something woke them up in the middle of the night.

"They stayed in their camper van because all their stuff was in there," said Christa Cuyler about her in-laws' camper parked in her backyard.

Investigators said a serial rapist was hiding nearby on Monday.

"I think they're more than heroes," Cuyler said.

It turns out her in-laws helped catch what police believe is one of Middle Tennessee's most dangerous criminals. On Thursday, police arrested Robert Jason Burdick, who is suspected of at least 13 rapes in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties since 1994.

The Cuylers left Middle Tennessee Friday morning to return to their home in Michigan. The drive gave them enough time to NewsChannel 5 their story, which started with the family dog.

"I was so thankful that Bailey did a little growling and I woke up and I had the opportunity to see him and spot him, " Sharon Cuyler said about Burdick in a telephone interview.

"He turned around and he had a mask on his face," Christa Cuyler said.

"So I yelled, ‘Hey! And I know I startled him," Sharon Cuyler said.

"He turned around and put the flashlight in their van and she called 911," Christa Cuyler said.

The man ran away but shortly afterwards Brentwood police searched the neighborhood. Later, officer Elliot Hamm pulled over Burdick.

"He was at the wrong place at the wrong time and was parked in an odd spot for that time of the night," Hamm said.

Were it not for her in-laws, Christa Cuyler worries someone in her community could have been the 14th victim.

"If they weren't there, he could of  attacked somebody. It could have been one of us or someone down the street," she said.

"It makes me so happy to know that he won't be able to harm anyone else again," said Sharon Cuyler.

Brentwood police developed Burdick as a suspect after the Cuylers' 911 call, but they didn't have enough evidence to arrest him yet. 

Investigators followed Burdick for the next several days and eventually obtained a DNA sample from him.  Investigators said that DNA linked him to at least six rape cases. A subsequent search of his home uncovered evidence that tied him to the crimes.  Investigators said the "Wooded Rapist" used guns and knives to threaten his victims and normally attacked women who lived near wooded areas.

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