Vicksburg police eyeing Gloster teen as potential suspect in elderly rape|[11/17/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 17, 2007

Although Vicksburg police are still waiting for DNA to be returned in the nearly two-month-old rape that left an 86-year-old woman hospitalized, officials say they might have a suspect in jail — 80 miles away.

Since the Sept. 21 rape occurred in an area just north of the Waterways Experiment Station, leads have been few and no arrests have been made.

But, the Oct. 23 arrest of a Gloster teen, accused of attacking a 78-year-old woman in her home, has raised eyebrows enough to look at the similarities in the cases, said Lt. Bobby Stewart, head of investigations for the Vicksburg Police Department.

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The department, Stewart said, has found no Vicksburg connection to 17-year-old Matthew Bailey, 111 Pearl St., who was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, burglary and attempted rape.

“Based on similar characteristics of the crime, we’re trying to see if maybe it’s the same person,” he said. “We’re going to have to wait on the forensic evidence to be processed and put into the database before we can identify it as a possible tie.”

Bailey was in the Amite County Jail on $1.5 million bond as of Friday morning, but information on his status was not available Friday night.

Evidence collected by officials who arrested Bailey about an hour after the attack is at the Mississippi Crime Lab in Jackson, where, Stewart said he was told, results in the Vicksburg case are also “still pending.”

Because of the similarities in the two cases, the evidence will be added into a database with DNA from the Gloster attack. Gloster, a town of just more than 1,000 people, is about two hours south of Vicksburg.

Vicksburg police have said the evidence from the rape will also be compared with that collected at the scene of the 2005 rape of a 91-year-old woman less than a mile from the most recent attack. That woman has since died, but before her death she told police her attacker was a black male, wearing a white T-shirt. Her descriptions helped police artists draw a composite of the attacker.

The most recent victim was able to identify her attacker only as a black male, Stewart has said. Police have said the evidence at the crime lab will determine whether the two Vicksburg rapes were committed by the same person.

Since the latest attack, Stewart said patrols have been stepped up and neighbors have been interviewed.

One neighbor posted a sign warning any criminals. The sign, which remains standing, reads, “Posted. Keep Out. Will Shoot. If You Move — Will Shoot Again.”

On Oct. 1, police arrested 20-year-old Quinton Williams for seven robbery-related felonies committed against women in the same area. Williams was arraigned on two indictments returned by the October term of the Warren County Grand Jury. In the first, he was indicted for felony possession of a weapon and armed robbery. His second indictment was for two counts of kidnapping, armed robbery and felony possession of a weapon. Williams was not charged in either of the rapes.

A $2,000 reward is being offered by Crimestoppers in return for any information in the rape case, District Attorney Gil Martin has said. The organization, sponsored by the Hundred Club of Vicksburg, is also offering $1,650 for any information that could lead to a suspect in the 2005 rape case. The reward money will be pooled if information proves that the same person committed both crimes.

Since Williams’ arrest, the only crime reported in the area was an armed robbery on Tuesday outside Ridge Apartments, 25 Eastover Drive. In that report, the victim said two men, one with a handgun, demanded her purse and fled on foot. No arrests had been made.