A convicted sex offender living in Essex Jct. stands accused of raping a University of Vermont student last weekend after gaining access to her dormitory.
Tyson Cyphers, 37, pleaded not guilty Monday morning to charges of repeated aggravated sexual assault, stalking and grand larceny. If convicted, he faces a possible sentence of life in prison.
Cyphers was active on the Vermont Sex Offender Registry from a 2004 conviction on two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct. He was listed as non-compliant with registry rules but designated “not high risk,” a Department of Corrections determination suggesting he doesn’t pose a high risk of re-offending.
Prosecutors requested Cyphers be held without bail for the entirety of his court proceedings. A judge will determine whether to set bail at a hearing March 6.
The alleged victim told detectives with the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations that Cyphers, whom she knew, somehow accessed her dormitory Saturday afternoon and, when she didn’t answer the door, threatened to “cut his wrists” if she didn’t let him inside.
When the woman allowed him to enter her room, Cyphers said he planned to “make her hate him,” the affidavit reads. He then locked the bedroom door, carried her over to her bed and forced her to have vaginal and oral sex, court records show. In both instances, she either said she did not want to have sex or attempted to push him away, court records show.
At one point, the woman told police, Cyphers put his hand around her neck, causing her to feel lightheaded.
Cyphers stopped assaulting the woman when her roommate tried to open the locked door. The woman told police she then began yelling at Cyphers, telling him he had to leave, at which time he told her to report him to the police. He then took several valuable items and attempted to take the woman’s cell phone, but she was able to get it back before he left, court records show.
After he left, Cyphers emailed the woman and said she could get her belongings at his home, providing her a door code to get in, court record show.
The woman’s roommate told police the alleged victim was trying to cut ties with Cyphers but felt obligated to keep speaking to him because he threatened self-harm whenever she did, court records show.
Several days before the assault, Cyphers waited for the woman outside of one her classes without her invitation to do so, court records show. She told police when she tried to walk away, he threatened to kill himself.
And the day of the alleged rape, Essex Police had issued a “be on the lookout” alert for Cyphers after his father reported his son had made comments of suicidal thoughts, court records show.
Following their initial interview with the alleged victim, detectives drove to the Essex police station, where EPD officers confirmed that Cyphers’ white Toyota Rav-4 was parked outside of his Lincoln Street residence. A woman called EPD around that time and told dispatchers that Cyphers had just initiated a video phone call with her showing he was drinking alcohol and taking pills.
Based on this information, detectives and EPD officers conducted a welfare check on Cyphers, suspecting that he may be overdosing on medication, court records show. Using the door code provided by the alleged victim, police gained entry to his apartment and found his bedroom door closed.
When Cyphers didn’t come out, officers breached the door and found him lying on his bed holding a flask and bottle of soda. Court records described him as lethargic but responsive to verbal commands when police took him into custody.
A detective then accompanied Essex Rescue as it transported Cyphers to the UVM Medical Center Emergency Department, where he was eventually cleared and taken to the South Burlington police station for processing.
While there, police say Cyphers exhibited “concerning behavior,” banging his head against the cement walls of his holding cell.
On Sunday, the day after Cyphers’ arrest, police executed a search warrant on his apartment and found the alleged victim’s belongings. They left a copy of the warrant and an inventory list on his bed.
Detectives also spoke with Cyphers’ mother, who advised she was concerned about her son’s behavior. She shared text messages with detectives from a conversation with Cyphers on Saturday evening, in which he admitted he “did something really bad.”
“I went to see [the woman] and forced myself on her,” Cyphers wrote, according to a transcript included in court records. “She didn’t fight back but I knew she doesn’t love me anymore actually she hates me. I made her hate me so I can do this and not feel bad about doing what I need to do.”
Cyphers then said he was not going to jail and sent his mother a photograph of a bottle of pills, court records show. As she pleaded through texts that he not give up, Cyphers continued to threaten suicide and expressed anger at her for calling the police.
As EMS personnel evaluated Cyphers during his arrest, he said his friends would want him to tell police he sexually assaulted the woman, the police affidavit says.
“Prior to being transported,” the affidavit adds, “Cyphers made another comment to the effect of, ‘Whatever you do, you won’t be able to stop this. This will happen again.’”