MERRIMAC, MASS. (WHDH) - A man who allegedly forced his way into a home in Merrimac earlier this month before torturing and sexually assaulting an elderly woman has been ordered held without bail.

William S. Raia, 50, was arraigned Tuesday in Newburyport District Court on four counts of aggravated rape, kidnapping, home invasion, strangulation, and assault and battery causing bodily injury on an elderly person, according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Officers responding to a report of a person in distress in the area of Hillside Avenue around 11 p.m. on July 3 spoke with a woman who told police that she was awakened by a man in her bedroom armed with a knife, according to authorities.

The woman added that the suspect threatened her with the knife, pepper-sprayed and raped her.

Prosecutors said she was able to convince Raia to allow her to wash the pepper spray from her face and she used the time to run to a neighbor’s home, where she called 911.

“The suspect turned away for a moment or two and she took the opportunity to flee for her life,” the prosecutor said.

She was taken to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment following the incident.

She told investigators during the assault, the suspect drank a beer and threw it in the bushes — a detail that helped them crack the case.

Prosecutors said DNA from that can was matched to Raia and he was taken into custody at his Merrimac home on Monday. “There was an older style cellphone partially under the victim’s car,” the prosecutor said, which also led them to Raia.

The suspect lives just around the corner from the victim which prosecutors say was used to threaten her.

“He indicated to her that he had been watching her for some period of time and he knew certain things about her life and if she reported this he would come back and kill her,” the lawyer said.

Raia’s wife Kerry told reporters she thinks they have the wrong man.

“I’m really confused because obviously I wouldn’t be with a man that would do something like that,” she said.

He is due back in court on Friday for a dangerousness hearing.

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