‘Brutal rapist’ sought after woman mutilated in Orange County, deputies say

Sheriff’s officials search for Bruce Whitehead

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County sheriff’s deputies are searching for a registered sexual predator after deputies said he brutally raped and mutilated a woman Saturday morning.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday said that authorities are looking for Bruce Whitehead, 54, who attacked the woman Saturday around 4 a.m. in the area of North Pine Hills Road and North Lane.

“Personally, I would qualify him as a monster. That’s my personal take. At the sheriff’s office we do believe him to be a danger to the community, which is why we have reached out to the citizens of Central Florida in an effort to bring him in so he doesn’t harm somebody else,” said Cpl. Evan Avila, of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office sex crimes unit.

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Deputies located the vehicle Whitehead was driving on Saturday evening and subsequently obtained an arrest warrant for him, according to the sheriff’s office.

“She’s very brave. She was able to escape from him, and that’s what our big concern is for her right now,” Avila said.

The victim was assisted by bystanders after she was able to escape, officials said. She is expected to recover, but the extent of her injuries has not been released.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office incident report said the woman was approached by Whitehead and she willingly got into his car. Deputies said Whitehead was wearing a hat, which covered some of the tattoos on his face. He then stopped at a convenience store and brought her a water, the report shows.

After driving away, Whitehead stopped and walked around to the passenger door and told the woman to get out while holding a knife to her throat, according to the incident report. He then sexually attacked her, officials said.

Deputies were later called to the area and found the woman “scared and shocked,” according to the incident report. The woman said she thought Whitehead was going to kill her, the report read.

“After he sexually battered her, he attempted to murder our victim, and at that point our victim bravely fought him off and was able to escape to a nearby subdivision,” Avila said.

The woman was taken the trauma center at Orlando Regional Medical Center, sheriff’s officials said.

Whitehead was convicted of kidnapping, armed sexual battery and first-degree attempted murder in a 1986 Duval County case and spent 20 years in prison.

Whitehead is described as being 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 200 pounds and has a tattoo across his forehead that says “sacrifice” with several tear drop tattoos below his left eye, authorities said.

According to detectives, Whitehead may have an injury to his cheek.

“We’re not sure if it’s the left or right cheek, but there may be a mark from her escape attempt,” Avila said.

“His tattoos are unmistakable. If you spot him, call 911 immediately,” the OCSO tweet said.

The incident report said Whitehead was possibly traveling in an older model gold-colored car.

“We don’t believe he’s fled the area, but we’re asking for the public’s assistance in obtaining that information,” Avila said. “It’s imperative that we apprehend Mr. Whitehead and bring him into custody... In my time here at the sheriff’s office, this is probably one of the more egregious offenses which is why we’re working so diligently to bring him into custody.”

A woman told News 6 she spotted Whitehead during her morning walk Wednesday morning — before she knew he was accused of rape.

“He turns around, and I saw all the tattoos on him, and he says, ‘I need two dollars from you now because I’m hungry,’” she said. “And that’s when I just started walking as fast with my walker as I could to get back here.”

Another woman who lives nearby said that she believes Whitehead should never have been released from prison to begin with.

“He did 20 years for raping someone and attempted murder. He should’ve never been let out,” she told News 6. “He should still be behind bars (until) this day.”

News 6 Law Enforcement Analyst Orlando Rolon — a former Orlando police chief — stated that the judicial system needs to become more “prudent” going forward to prevent issues like this from repeating.

“Law enforcement can arrest them all day long, but the judicial system has to keep them behind bars when they deserve to stay behind bars,” Rolon said.

Anyone with information about Whitehead’s possible whereabouts can also call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.

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About the Authors:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.