Man accused of kidnapping, raping 13-year-old girl arrested

JSO says man pulled teen into wooded area in Wesconnett neighborhood

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter , Allyson Henning - Reporter , News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man accused of raping a 13-year-old girl Saturday night in woods in Jacksonville’s Wesconnett area appeared before a judge Monday morning.

Bjorn Soyland, 39, is charged with kidnapping and sexual battery. He is being held without bond.

Police said Soyland was found thanks in part to a community effort to help police identify him after the teenager reported the attack. She said a man pulled her by her shirt into the wooded area in a park at 105th Street near Wesconnett Boulevard around 7:30 p.m. She said he partially pulled off her clothes and raped her.

Investigators said an exam conducted by the Child Protection Team confirmed the teen had been assaulted.

Officers described the man as white, 30 to 40 years old with a scruffy appearance, a goatee, dirty brown hair and missing bottom teeth. Police said he was possibly walking with a limp. 

On Sunday, several people said they saw a man matching that description walking near the crime scene. They notified police, who then arrested Soyland. A check of his record shows only minor traffic offenses. 

Neighbor hears screaming

Ralph Green, who has lived in the Wesconnett area for the past 20 years, said he heard screaming but didn’t think much of it at first. 

“I was sitting on the porch and I thought I heard a girl screaming, or something was crying. It’s hard to tell because of the park up here. Kids are screaming and hollering all the time,” Green said. 

Green said he's known the girl for quite a while and might have seen her moments after the attack.

“She (possibly the girl) was crying. She acted really upset and she crossed over 105th and went on Banyan Street,” Green said. “I didn't really think anything of it. I just thought maybe she was upset with her boyfriend or whatever.”

After realizing what happened, Green said he’s disturbed and he’s going to stay on high alert. He also said he's happy an arrest was made.

Concerns about park

“We've had our problems through the years, maybe a couple burglaries or a hooker or something walking by, but other than that, it's been a pretty good place,” Green said.

Neighbors have had some complaints with the playground where the girl was grabbed, including a fence with no gate to get in on one side, and on the other side, an opening in the fence near the wooded area, with no gate. 

Another problem, residents said, is that according to a sign, the park is open until 10 p.m., long after dark, but there are no lights in the area.

City officials said Monday that they are looking into those issues.

Multiple attacks

This is the third report of a sexual battery or assault in Jacksonville in a week.

According to police, a woman reported being sexually assaulted outside the Brown Eastside Branch Library Monday morning. She said she was outside her car when an armed man tried robbing her at gunpoint before battering her inside her car. 

Early Tuesday, a man beat a woman unconscious before forcing his way into her San Pablo apartment and raping her, police said. Police released a sketch of the attacker in that case.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS (8477).

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