Monday, October 15, 2007

On-Board Digital Video Camera Systems Help Arrest Suspect in Abduction, Rape

By Chris Havens, Star Tribune

A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and rape of a woman at a Minneapolis light-rail train station in the early morning hours of Oct. 4, Metro Transit Police said Saturday.
St. Paul police arrested the Minneapolis man, who has no permanent address, shortly before 4 p.m. Friday. He's being held in the Hennepin County Jail pending charges.

Metro Transit Police are handling the investigation. According to Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons:

The woman was alone on the 38th Street platform waiting for a northbound train about 1:55 a.m. when a man approached her. He put a gun to her back and verbally threatened her. Then he forced her off the platform and took her to a laundry facility in an apartment building east of Hiawatha Avenue where he beat and raped the woman and stole her purse.

The victim, who had been with friends at a nearby bar, made her way to an acquaintance who lived in the area and called police. She was taken to the hospital, where she was treated and released.

It was the first abduction on the light-rail system since trains began rolling in 2004.

Transit police investigators worked with other law enforcement agencies, witnesses, video from the platform and other evidence to identify the suspect, said Transit Police Chief Dave Indrehus.

Gibbons said the victim remembered key details that helped in the investigation.

All of Metro Transit's 17 LRT stations, 27 train cars and 850 buses have video cameras.

"Once again, the importance of transit surveillance video has been affirmed," Indrehus said.

Rapists often find public places, such as bus stops, to be good places to take advantage of women, said Linda Ledray, director of the Hennepin County Medical Center's Sex Assault Resource Service. However, she said, rapes committed by strangers aren't nearly as common as those committed by acquaintances.

Ledray said her program has seen more than 60 rape victims each month from June through September in Hennepin County. "We've seen more stranger rapes and violent rapes than we've seen in the past 30 years," she said, adding that not all cases are reported to police.

According to Minneapolis Police statistics, there have been 382 reported rapes so far in 2007. That's six fewer than the number reported this time last year. At this time in 2005, 334 rapes had been reported.

Chris Havens •

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