Cops Flood NYC Neighborhood Where Girl Was Snatched, Raped Three Years Ago - NBC New York

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Cops Flood NYC Neighborhood Where Girl Was Snatched, Raped Three Years Ago

"This could be anyone's kid. And he's still out there... I have full confidence that he's gonna hit again," NYPD Det. Diane Crowley says of the rapist in the 2015 attack

NYPD Detective Retraces Steps in Hunt for Child Rapist

Three years after a 12-year-old girl was viciously raped in the Bronx, the suspect is still at large. It's a cold case the NYPD is trying hard to crack. Marc Santia reports.

(Published Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018)

What to Know

  • The 12-year-old girl, clutching her princess lunch box and wearing her school uniform, was attacked on Feb. 24, 2015 as she got off bus

  • The stranger threatened to kill her, then dragged her roughly, turning down an alley where he brutally attacked her, police say

  • Despite DNA evidence and surveillance footage of the attack, no arrests have been made; one detective remains haunted

The rapist who grabbed a 12-year-old girl off a New York City street in broad daylight and raped her three years ago will strike again if he's not caught, an NYPD detective working on the case says.

Det. Diane Crowley has been investigating the brutal rape since it happened Feb. 24, 2015, unpacking the chilling clues and chasing down every lead. The victim was a sixth-grader in pigtails, wearing a school uniform and a bookbag shaped like a dinosaur, clutching a princess lunchbox. 

"She was a baby and she looked like a baby," she told News 4 in an exclusive television interview Friday. 

"This could be anyone's kid. And he's still out there," she said of the predator. "I have full confidence that he's gonna hit again." 

Det. Diane Crowley is haunted by the cold case of the 2015 rape. "She was a baby and she looked like a baby... This could be anyone's kid. And he's still out there."
Photo credit: News 4 NY

The girl didn't live in the neighborhood where she was raped. She'd stepped off the Bx19 bus to transfer to another bus after school, heading home around dinnertime after tutoring. That's when the rapist grabbed her by the arm and threatened to kill her if she screamed. 

He dragged the terrified sixth grader through the strange neighborhood and took her into an alley where he brutally attacked her.

"She doesn't want to die. She told me she was afraid he was going to kill her," said Crowley. 

The suspect roughly dragged the girl -- a sixth-grader in pigtails, wearing a school uniform and a bookbag shaped like a dinosaur, clutching a princess lunchbox.
Photo credit: News 4 NY

The rapist had tried to get into two locked buildings on 179th Street, and ultimately ended up in an alley on Daly Street. The girl later told Crowley she remembered a "grass wall." 

After searching hundreds of alleys, the Special Victims Unit found the grass wall, and the girl confirmed at the scene that was where she was attacked. 

"As soon as she walked through here, 'That's it! Detective Crowley, this is it. This is it,'" Crowley recalled. The girl was talking about a turf-covered fence at the end of a sunken alley hidden from the street.

"As soon as she walked through here, 'That's it! Detective Crowley, this is it. This is it,'" Det. Crowley recalled. The girl was talking about a turf-covered fence at the end of a sunken alley hidden from the street.
Photo credit: News 4 NY

A surveillance camera and video captured the attack -- disturbing even for a veteran detective. 

"Having to see it, of course it gets you, it's your fuel," said Crowley. "It's what makes you want to throw handcuffs on the person that did this." 

Det. Crowley says the footage of the attack was disturbing: "Having to see it, of course it gets you, it's your fuel. It's what makes you want to throw handcuffs on the person that did this."
Photo credit: News 4 NY

The footage shows a young man in tan cargo pants, wearing a blue jacket with a hood and a hat. His face is blurry, but it's not impossible to recognize. Part of the problem, Crowley has told The Associated Press, is the suspect was also young, probably 14 to 16 years old. She thinks people are afraid of being wrong and turning in an innocent kid.

"Obviously with the forensic evidence, there's no way the wrong kid will go to jail for this," she told the AP.

After the attack, the girl ran and called her mother and they went to the hospital, which collected forensic evidence. Crowley told the AP that when she arrived to the hospital, the little girl was in a bed, still in her uniform, but it was ripped and dirty. Her glasses were askew.

She had a hard time explaining the attack to police.

"She had to describe things that happened to her that she didn't even have the vocabulary for," Crowley said. "She'd never seen a male body before."

Girl Walking on Street Forced Into Alley, Raped: NYPDGirl Walking on Street Forced Into Alley, Raped: NYPD

The 12-year-old girl had stepped off the bus at about 6 p.m. to walk home after a tutoring session when the suspect accosted her and grabbed her arm near East Tremont Avenue and Southern Boulevard near the Cross Bronx Expressway, the girl's mother told NBC 4 New York. Lori Bordonaro reports.
(Published Friday, Feb. 27, 2015)

SVU is not working the cold case alone. The rape has haunted the Bronx neighborhood where it happened for years, and neighbors are eager to find the attacker. 

"They need to find him, and he needs to pay for what he did," said East Tremont resident Ninoska Veras. "Little kids should not go through situations like that." 

"For a little girl to get raped, I'm not going to tolerate that," said Richie Pearson. "All rapists need to come off the street." 

Footage shows a young man in tan cargo pants, wearing a blue jacket with a hood and a hat. His face is blurry, but it's not impossible to recognize.
Photo credit: News 4 NY

Crowley says the girl is more concerned than anything about future potential victims. 

"Not, 'I want him to rot in jail.' Not, you know, 'He deserves something bad to happen,'" she said. "'I don't want anyone else to have to go through what I went through.'" 

Police have been back in the neighborhood, on the three-year anniversary of the case, talking to people on the street and handing out fliers, urging them to contact investigators with tips, no matter how small. 

Police have returned to the Bronx neighborhood of the rape to post fliers and urge residents to report any tips.
Photo credit: News 4 NY

"Even if they think it's insignificant, we may be able to run with it and it may provide a huge break for us," said Crowley.

Crowley said the girl has had ups and downs. She's anxious and can't sleep, struggles in school, but she's growing into a smart young woman and is doing her best.

"But, her innocence was taken. The twinkle in her eye dimmed out," she said. "I would love nothing more than to bring her and her family justice."

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS or nypdcrimestoppers.com. There's a reward of more than $22,000 for any tips leading to an arrest.

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