08/04/2011 06:57 EDT | Updated 10/04/2011 05:12 EDT

David Wesley Bobbitt, Man Sought In B.C. Sex Assault, Caught By Police


PENTICTON, B.C. - Mounties had launched a Canada-wide search for a man accused of a vicious assault on a young mother, but he was found just 50 kilometres away, hiding in plain sight.

David Wesley Bobbitt was arrested Wednesday night in what's known as British Columbia's fruit belt, near the town of Oliver.

Bobbitt is accused of attempting to murder a 22-year-old woman who was beaten for hours and sexually assaulted, all in front of her 22 month-old son.

Heide Held, who's family owns Hillside Orchards in Oliver, B.C., said Bobbitt had been camping for two days on the boundary between their orchard and the neighbours'.

She said she assumed the man was working for the neighbour, like other transient fruit pickers who often pitch their tents in the area.

"We didn't think anything of it because we're always usually working and we didn't watch the news," she said.

Held said her father spoke with the man briefly and asked him to move his camp so he could spray some nearby trees.

It was only after the police arrested the man and they saw his picture that they made the connection, Held said.

"My dad looked at the picture this morning and said 'oh my God, that's the guy I talked to,'" she said "It was kind of weird, it was kind of freaky."

Held's neighbour called police.

RCMP Corp. Dan Moskaluk said Bobbitt was captured after an orchardist asked a man who was attempting to set up camp on his property to move on.

During the conversation, the farmer recognized Bobbitt as the man police were looking for, Moskaluk said.

The orchardist phoned an off-duty RCMP friend of his and Bobbitt was arrested walking down the highway without incident.

Moskaluk said the family of the victim is greatly relieved there's been an arrest.

"This young girl was petrified, she was very concerned about being revictimized," he said.

The woman vanished last Saturday afternoon and her family was immediately concerned because she had planned to drop off her son with a family member before going to work.

The family kept searching and 12 hours later, her car was spotted near a second hand store. Police entered the store and found her bound and beaten, with her son nearby.

Bobbitt was the operator of the store.

Police said it appeared to be a random attack and the woman didn't know the accused.

She is recovering from her injuries.

Moskaluk said he hasn't seen anything this vicious in his 26 years on the job.

"The brutality of the attack, and the injuries that she sustained, in particular to the skull, with severe and multiple lacerations, it's a miracle that she's alive," he said.

Bobbitt was to appear in a Penticton court on Thursday charged with attempted murder. More charges could also be laid.

Moskaluk said there was also a concern around threats made against Bobbitt on social media.

"Time and time again we remind and ask people to keep their emotions in check," he said.

Police don't want to pull resources from the main case to investigate secondary issues, such as threats, he said.