Detroit community beats alleged rapist of 15 y.o. girl with Down Syndrome after slow police response
Community members in one Detroit neighborhood took matters into their own hands and beat an accused rapist of a 15-year-old girl with Down Syndrome after they say Detroit Police failed to respond.
Friday marks the 23rd day without an arrest after the 15-year-old victim said a man grabbed her while she was walking to work, took her to his apartment and raped her in early July.
The suspect lives in the same neighborhood as the victim. Members of the Hubbard Farms community say the man has mental health issues. They posted his face on flyers around the neighborhood to warn others.
Family friend of the victim, Megan Herres says the teen waited for seven hours at the hospital for Detroit Police to administer a rape kit. She reportedly waited five days before police interviewed her about the sexual assault and 21 days until Detroit Police sent the rape kit to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab.
“That’s just not acceptable,” said Herres. “DPD, we want to see an effort toward sexual assaults of minors,” she continued “It’s not good to live in a community where people don’t feel safe."
Other community members were equally outraged at what they believed was a lack of response by Detroit Police and on Monday took matters into their own hands. The community beat the accused rapist with a baseball bat so badly he needed to go to the hospital.
Herres said vigilante justice is not the answer, but frustrations grew and boiled over. “There was a lot of community response in asking the police for their assistance in apprehending the perpetrator and it wasn’t happening in a timely manner,” said Herres.
When 7 Action News asked officials why the investigation was taking so long, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office said they have asked Detroit Police for more evidence and are waiting to determine if charges will be brought.
Detroit Police say the prosecutor’s office is waiting on DNA. The MSP crime lab does have the rape kit and are expediting it. When we told Detroit Police we wanted a reason for the delay, a police spokesperson told 7 Action News, "We are looking into this."
The condition of the accused rapist is unknown at this time. Community members say his family checked him into a facility of some sort.
Herres says the teen victim is doing the best she can and she has her family and an entire community rallying behind her. ..Source..bat by Julie Banovic
Suspect in Detroit attack the victim of vigilantes; community blames police
Detroit police said there was nothing more they could do. It was a waiting game.
The timer ran out.
Janet Ray, the mother of an adopted 15-year-old girl with Down Syndrome and well-known members of the Hubbard Farms community, claims a mentally-handicapped man lured her daughter to his southwest Detroit apartment and raped her on July 17.
As weeks passed, the suspect remained free to walk the area surrounding Clark Park, a popular gathering place for children. Concern within the community percolated and vigilantism boiled over this past Monday.
Southwest District Commander John Serda said last Thursday the suspect was then in police custody, although multiple community members, including a tenant of the suspect's apartment building, said they'd seen him free prior to Thursday afternoon.
Police detained and "interviewed" the suspect last Monday, according to Serda, but he has not been charged with any crimes.
"It's just so unfortunate on both ends," Detroit Police Commissioner Rev. Jerome Warfield said Tuesday.
Warfield confirmed rumors that began circulating Facebook Monday that some members of the neighborhood sought vigilante justice and assaulted the suspect resulting in his hospitalization Monday. Warfield said he informed high-ranking Detroit police officials about what transpired on Tuesday.
A user on the "I grew up in SouthWest Detroit" Facebook page about 2:30 p.m. Monday wrote that, "a friend of mine" caught up with the suspect and "really whooped" him at 25th and Toledo, "banged" both legs and hands with bats.
The post, as of Tuesday night, had received 133 "likes" and 100 comments, most supporting the vigilante action.
Several tenants of the Southwest Solutions building where the suspect lived on West Grande said people were spotted moving the suspect's personal belongings from his apartment Tuesday. The suspect wasn't seen.
He lived in what Southwest Solutions calls a "supportive community," which in addition to housing offers a "blend of services" to the tenants, such as independent-living and counseling services.
A board covered the outside of the front window to the apartment Tuesday and the outline of faded graffiti that had been recently power-washed from the concrete was visible below another.
Two tenants said "rapist" had been painted there and someone broke into the apartment through the front window.
Two armed security guards were seen entering the building Tuesday afternoon but would not discuss why they were at the property.
Last Thursday during a Detroit Police Commission meeting, Warfield voiced his concern that the "enraged" community might take the law into its own hands, that something like this might happen.
"My heart certainly goes out to the guy and his family," Warfield said. "My job right now is to try and figure out how can we, as much as possible, try and prevent this.
"We knew this guy was out there, we knew the community was upset and yet we couldn't protect him..."
Investigators told the victim's mother there wouldn't be any charges until the rape kit, submitted late on July 17, could be analyzed by the state police forensics lab, said Deb Sumner, a founder of the Clark Park Coalition.
State police received the rape kit 20 days after the alleged incident.
Ray asked Sumner to speak to MLive on her behalf.
"We all feel that there is a disconnect, there is something wrong with the DPD Sex Crimes Unit," Sumner said. "Why would anyone sit on evidence like that? Why wasn’t it sent within one to two days to the state police?"
Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for the state police, said the kit arrived Monday afternoon with a request that it be expedited. She said preliminary results for expedited requests can be turned around in a "couple weeks."
Sumner said police didn't conduct an interview with the victim until five days after the crime was reported.
According to Southwest Solutions President John VanCamp, police never issued a search warrant for the suspect's apartment.
"We were aghast that they didn't come search the apartment," said VanCamp. "I was pleading with them to pick him up because I felt... the longer that he was not picked up the longer that his safety would be compromised.
"There was a level of frustration with the lack of police response. It was deafening."
Detroit Police Sgt. Eren Stephens, as of this report, hadn't responded to a request from MLive for explanation as to the time lapse between the rape kit administration and delivery to the lab. The request for comment was made about 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The state shut down the Detroit Police Department crime lab in 2008 after the discovery of more than 11,000 untested rape kits by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's office prompted an investigation.
Sumner said community members, believing it would be weeks or months until police made an arrest, distributed flyers last weekend warning the public an "extremely dangerous rapist" was free in the neighborhood.
The flyer included the suspect's photo and name. Sumner said neither she nor the victim's mother condone the assault that followed.
"The majority of our people here, we don't want to see any violence," Sumner said. "We just wanted him to be off the street so no one else would be potentially harmed."
Sumner said there's a feeling among some within the community that the understaffed police department can't protect them, so they did it themselves.
VanCamp confirmed that the suspect is no longer living in the Southwest Solutions apartment or another of its properties. ..Source.. by Gus Burns is the public safety reporter