Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the violent sexual assault of a 73-year-old birdwatcher in Central Park, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
The suspect, 42-year-old David Albert Mitchell, was identified by the victim in a lineup at the Special Victims Unit Thursday afternoon. He was charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, criminal sex act, robbery and assault.
Mitchell said nothing as he walked out of the central booking headquarters to a police car, only spitting at reporters as he walked past them.
It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney.
Mitchell was picked up near the park at 77th Street and Amsterdam Avenue by three rookie police officers patrolling the area at about 7:20 p.m., hours after Wednesday’s attack, Browne said. Mitchell fit the description of the rape suspect, and the officers stopped and held him until investigators from the special victims unit arrived.
Police initially held Mitchell on a charge of threatening a man inside Central Park on Aug. 20 as they waited to see if the woman could identify him as her attacker in Wednesday’s incident.
The victim in the Aug. 20 case, a man, told police the suspect threatened him with a large knife inside the park. When police released photos of the suspect while searching for him Wednesday, the male victim recognized him as the man who threatened him several weeks ago.
Mitchell was charged with menacing in connection with that incident.
Detectives requested a warrant for Mitchell’s DNA as well as a warrant to view images on a digital camera memory chip they found on him. He has an extensive criminal record in Virginia and was released in March 2011 after spending about seven years in state prison on a kidnapping charge. He was acquitted of murder and sex assault charges in a separate case in 1989.
It’s not clear how long Mitchell has been in New York City. He has no arrests in the city and appears to be homeless, authorities said.
The victim in Wednesday’s attack told police she had seen her attacker before, and believed he assaulted her near Strawberry Field’s Wednesday morning because he was angry she photographed him exposing himself in a more isolated area of the park a week earlier.
She told investigators the man asked, “Do you remember me?” before raping her. The victim told the New York Post he jumped on her back, pummeled her, grabbed her throat and threatened to cut her jugular when she screamed.
On Thursday, the woman said she’s on edge, but mostly enraged by the attack. Vowing to return to the park where she loves to watch birds, she condemned her attack and said she hoped he spent the rest of his life behind bars.
“Kill him,” she told the Post. “Cut off his feet, then hit him over the head. Then give him life in prison.”
Police have photos of Mitchell exposing himself from the victim’s first encounter with him.
Source: NBC 4 NY