Gary Vigilantes Beat Him, Say He Broke Into Home
The vigilantes who recently pummeled Reginald Muldrew, sending him to an emergency room in Gary, had no idea of his notoriety. They beat him, neighborhood residents said, simply because they believed he had broken into the home of a friend of theirs and threatened her.
But in pouncing on Muldrew--a convicted serial rapist linked to dozens of sex crimes in Southern California in the late 1970s--those Gary residents left police both a beating victim and a prime suspect.
Although Muldrew has not been charged with any crimes in Gary, police there are investigating the possibility that he may have been involved in five home invasions, some involving physical attacks, that have occurred on the city's east side since June.
On Friday, Muldrew was still listed in critical but stable condition at Methodist Hospital Northlake in Gary, recovering from the Aug. 5 beating. Investigators must wait at least until nurses remove the tracheotomy tube from his throat before they can question him.
The attack on Muldrew was more than another example of apparent vigilante justice. Repeat sex offenders have been at the center of an emotional debate about whether society can reconcile communities' need for safety with ex-convicts' right to privacy. Also increasingly at issue is whether sex offenders can ever truly be rehabilitated.
Muldrew's mere presence in Gary underscored the new emphasis on tracking sex offenders once they are released from prison. In May, President Clinton signed a federal version of New Jersey's so-called Megan's Law, requiring states to notify communities when convicted sex offenders move into their areas.
In this case, California authorities contacted Gary police in December to alert them that Muldrew would likely be coming to Gary because he has a brother there. After he arrived in town, a local paper printed a story about him.
Shortly before traveling to Gary, Muldrew had been mobbed at a Las Vegas airport by reporters wanting to talk to the bald, gap-toothed former prisoner. His name also had been mentioned repeatedly in press conferences, rallies and legislative hearings in California when the issue of sex offenders was raised.
A $1,500 reward was even offered for information about where he had moved. At the time, a defense lawyers group warned that the reward invited vigilantism.
Ironically, though, the small group of young men who attacked Muldrew earlier this month apparently had no idea of his notorious history, according to several residents.
The attacks under investigation by Gary police involved at least two key similarities to those committed by Muldrew when he was known as Los Angeles' "pillowcase rapist"--a moniker given to him because Muldrew put a pillowcase over his victims' heads.
"Mr. Muldrew, from what we understand from California, does have a certain (method) of doing things," said Gary Police Detective Delmar Stout. "The race of the woman is important--black or Hispanic--and usually (attacks occur) in early-morning hours."
The three recent incidents involving attacks--as opposed to the other two classified just as "residential entry"--all took place about 4 a.m.
That is about the time on June 10 when a 37-year-old resident of Gary's Dorie Miller public housing complex had finished studying her business management textbook while sitting on her leather couch. She fell asleep but was awakened 15 minutes later by a man who climbed atop her.
"The next thing I knew, he was putting something over my face. He had taken a dress (of hers) and tried to smother me," she said. "I tried to raise up, and he said, `Don't say nothing.' "
The woman said she was about to pass out when her assailant lost his balance. At that point, she screamed, and he ran.
"I have no doubt, if I hadn't been able to fight him off, he would have smothered me to death," she said. "That voice, I'll never forget. It terrified me--the menace in it."
On Aug. 5, one of her neighbors, LaSandra Morris, was attacked when she surprised an intruder while coming home about 4 a.m. The man, whose face was partially shrouded, stopped as he was coming down Morris' stairs and told her: "Don't move. This is a stickup. I got a gun pointed to your head."
The man then told her to lie on the floor, and he placed a couch pillow over her head, she said. After taking the phone off the hook, he fled.
About 20 minutes later, Morris said, one of several young men who had been riding mopeds near her apartment returned and told her that they had seen a man running out of her house. They had pursued him, beat him and retrieved a purse that belonged to one of Morris' daughters.
Following the young man to where the beating had taken place, she said she saw Muldrew lying on a lawn. His face was bloodied and he was wearing the same "dusty blue jeans" as the man who had attacked her, she said.
The officer who interviewed Muldrew in the hospital emergency room about an hour after the incident wrote that Muldrew said "unknown subjects beat him up with a brick and with their fist," according to a police report.
Nobody has been arrested in Muldrew's beating, police said. ..Source.. by Flynn McRoberts, Tribune Staff Writer. Tribune reporter Gary Marx contributed to this article.