KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The building located at 1801 Ailor Avenue is usually locked up and empty, but from time to time, it's a place for people to say goodbye to loved ones.
"It's not truly abandoned. There are funeral activity that seems like we've witnessed from time to time. They don't occur often, but from time to time, a hearse does pull up here and several people will also be in attendance," said Dotty Church, who works in the area.
Two Muslim men said the building is used as a funeral home for the Muslim community. It's where the bodies are washed before they're buried. But Knoxville police said something else - something terrible - happened in the building around 5:30 Wednesday afternoon when David Clay - a homeless, registered sex offender - grabbed a woman by her throat, pulled her inside and raped her.
"It's kind of shocking that it happned in broad daylight, honestly," said Glenn Maculewicz, who works in the area.
"Normally we feel - I don't want to say safe, and have a false sense of safeness, but we feel not totally unsafe at five o'clock in the afternoon. That timing did suprise us - that that kind of thing went on in broad daylight," said Church.
According to the warrants, the woman told police that Clay struck her head against the wall and she lost consciousness. When she woke up, he continued to hold her against her will, threatening her with what appeared to be a knife with a metal handle.
Five hours later, around 10:30 p.m., she managed to escape, taking Clay's cell phone, which she used to call for help.
"She's very lucky. She was able to notify us and the investigation lead to a known sex offender, who was later arrested," said Sergeant Sean Hejna, with the Knoxville Police Department.
Clay faces aggravated rape and especially aggravated kidnapping charges. He's in jail under $1,000,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is set for August 13.
Clay has a long criminal history, including convictions for sexual battery, aggravated assault and assault.
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