Suspect in apartment assault was ‘seeing and hearing demons,' victim testifies

Thomas Soisson is facing five felony charges.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A paroled felon accused of sexually assaulting a woman he had been dating claimed to be “seeing and hearing demons’’ before the Sept. 21 assault that led to an extensive manhunt, according to testimony on Friday, Oct. 6.

Thomas Edward Soisson, 27, is accused of physically and sexually assaulting the woman for several hours at York Creek Apartments in Kent County's Alpine Township. The woman said she wanted to end their dating relationship because of abuse.

On the evening of the reported assault, Soisson slipped between normalcy and agitation, the woman testified Friday.

“He told me that he was seeing and hearing demons and he could hear them telling him that he should kill everybody and he even said ‘they told me I should kill you,’’’ the woman testified at a probable cause hearing in 63rd District Court.

Soisson said he’d been hearing voices for a while, but kept it to himself, according to testimony. She offered to take him in for a mental health evaluation, but Soisson didn’t respond, she testified.

“He cried, he told me that he felt crazy,’’ the woman said. “One second he was telling me that he loved me and that he cared for me and then the next second he was telling me that I had to die.''

Soisson raped the woman and twice choked her to the point she lost consciousness, she testified. He also held a knife to her abdomen and neck, the woman told the court.

“He eventually had me in a choke hold; he was behind me,’’ she testified. “I wiggled out of that and I went to run down the hallway and he got a hold of me. He threw me on my back in the hallway. That’s the first time he strangled me unconscious.’’

The woman said she was eventually able to escape. She ran to a gas station on Alpine Avenue NW and asked employees to call police. When Kent County deputies went to the apartment complex to talk with Soisson, he took off.

A daylong search near Alpine Avenue and Four Mile Road NW included a Michigan State Police helicopter and numerous uniformed officers. Area schools were put on lockdown.

Soisson was arrested late Thursday, Sept. 21 in the area of Alpine Avenue and Three Mile Road NW.

After hearing testimony Friday from one witness, 63rd District Court Judge Jeffrey O’Hara determined there was enough evidence to send the case to Kent County Circuit Court.

Soisson is charged with kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to do great bodily harm, assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting and opposing police and being a habitual felony offender. He is being held without bond in the Kent County Jail.

Soisson has lived in the area off and on for several years.

He’s been in trouble since his teen years; prior offenses include a 2006 conviction for third degree criminal sexual conduct when he was 16.

Soisson was sentenced to prison in May 2012 for failing to comply with sex offender registration duties. Court records show Soisson did not verify his address while staying at Alternative Directions on South Division Avenue at Dickinson Street SE.

Soisson was back in trouble 2½ years later for fleeing a traffic stop on Alpine Avenue at Six Mile Road NW. The Dec. 2014 incident led to five criminal charges. Soisson pleaded guilty to two felony offenses, including fleeing police, and was sentenced to between 1½ and five years in prison.

He was released on parole in that case last September. He’s had numerous stints in jail; offenses include violating probation, aggravated assault, drug offenses and first-degree home invasion.

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