Phoenix police arrested a homeless man on suspicion of molesting a 9-year-old girl in an apartment complex gym on July 7. 

William Buford, 34, was arrested on one count of aggravated assault on a minor, one count of kidnapping, and one count of molestation of a child. 

The girl’s mother called officers at 5:22 p.m., minutes after the attack, to report the incident at San Valiente Apartments 2200 W. Mission Lane.

The girl told police she had been visiting a friend’s apartment in the same complex when a man grabbed her and dragged her into the gym’s women’s restroom. He locked the restroom door, pushed her to the ground and laid on top of her, she said.

She told police he covered her mouth with his hands, but she fought back, scratching his face, cheek, shoulder and neck.He gave up and fled.

Officers couldn’t find the suspect in a search of the building, but Childhelp workers collected DNA swabs from the girl’s body in a medical exam. They found skin cells beneath the girl’s fingernails where she had scratched her assailant, which were later matched to Buford’s sample from the state’s DNA database. 

A records check confirmed that Buford matched the girl’s description of the suspect. Police detained Buford on Monday. He had facial scratches that matched injuries the victim described as inflicting, and his clothes matched her description.

Buford confirmed that he frequently visits the San Valiente Apartments and claimed that he hands out water bottles and money to people in the neighborhood. He told police the 9-year-old girl took an extra water bottle and that he took it back from her. He denied any confrontation at the gym or bathroom.

Read or Share this story: