By Staff

NEWBURYPORT (CBS) – A man charged in a horrific home invasion and rape in Merrimac earlier this month has been ordered held without bail.

William Raia, 50, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Newburyport District Court to charges of aggravated rape, kidnapping, home invasion, strangulation and assault and battery.

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Investigators say Raia went to a home on Hillside Avenue around 9 p.m. on July 3 armed with a knife and brutally terrorized a 74-year-old woman for two hours.

“That individual began to strangle her, beat her about the face and body., shove his fingers down her throat so that she couldn’t breathe,” said prosecutor Kate MacDougall. “He raped her repeatedly.”

She eventually escaped to a neighbor’s home and called police. She was taken to a hospital, treated and released.

Police were later able to get the man’s DNA from a can of beer that he drank in the home and from a cigarette. Investigators say the DNA matched Raia. They also found an old cell phone under the victim’s car and traced it back to Raia’s wife.

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Raia was arrested at his home in Merrimac Monday evening.

On Tuesday, the judge ordered him held without bail pending a further hearing.

Raia’s wife talked to reporters outside the courthouse after his arraignment.

“It just makes no sense,” Kerry Raia said. “They sent a sketch to me of the person they’re looking for, doesn’t even look like my husband.”

She was then asked if she thought he did what he’s accused of.

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“No, God no. Why would I be with somebody like that?,” she said. “I don’t believe it.” Staff