CMPD: 15-year-old charged after woman raped, robbed at gunpoint in University City area

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Police said a 15-year-old suspect is in custody after a woman was kidnapped at gunpoint, raped and robbed in the University City area of Charlotte early Saturday morning.

On Monday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they arrested and charged the teen with three counts of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and three counts of first-degree sex offense. They are not releasing his name because of his age.

Officers said the incident started around 2 a.m. at the 49North Apartments near Mallard Creek Church Road and University Boulevard.

“This victim was truly an innocent victim. Does what any of us do, coming and going,” Sgt. Allie Rooks, with the CMPD rape unit, said.

CMPD said the teenager approached the 21-year-old woman in the apartment complex parking lot and threatened her with a gun.

Officials said the suspect then forced his way into the victim's car and demanded she go to several different ATMs to withdraw money before police said he raped her.

“After he had the money, he then sexually assaulted her in her vehicle and let her out,” Rooks said.

The victim was able to get away from the suspect near the intersection of North Tryon Street and University City Boulevard, but the suspect drove off in the victim's car.

Officers said they found the vehicle and began a chase, but were unable to capture the accused kidnapper and rapist after he ditched the car at Pondridge Court. Officers used K-9s to search the area, but were unable to find the suspect.

Police haven't said how they were able to track the 15-year-old suspect down on Monday.

They said the teenager had been released on bond and ordered to wear an electronic monitor in an unrelated felony case when the assault happened.

Police said they had been looking for him since the battery on his electronic monitor died a week ago.

“Mom confirms that he had been reported missing that morning and had no leads to locate the kid. At this point, it's just a missing juvenile who's violated by not charging his device,” CMPD Sgt. Michael Carter said.

The attack came just days after a frustrated CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said the monitoring program has become an excuse to let dangerous suspects out of jail.

“They should get their trial, but they should not be out on EM or any other way continuing to victimize people who are trying to go about their business,” Putney said.

Police said there are more than 20 murder suspects out of jail with electronic monitors.

They said last year they charged three people who were out of jail on electronic monitoring with murder. Last week, officers added a fourth when they arrested a teenager on electronic monitoring for the murder of 17-year-old Alysha Johnson.

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The EM program does have its defenders, though.

“EM, in fact, was a program that was designed by the police department and started by the police department,” Mike Kabakoff, who is is a public defender, said.

Kabakoff said, despite a handful of terrible cases, defendants wearing electronic monitors are less likely to commit more crime than those released without them.

“Again, the numbers are real low when it comes to people re-offending when they're on EM,” Kabakoff said.

Those who live at 49North said this is not the first time they have heard about crime in the area and said now, they are hoping something can be done to fix it.

"There's just more crime going on around here than I thought there would be," resident Izaiah Ruskin said. "Before even this incident, people were getting their cars broken into around here so I would just say maybe this place needs to install cameras."

This is the third sexual assault CMPD has investigated across Charlotte in less than a week. Some women said it's cases like this that have heightened their own sense of safety.

"It's definitely scary thinking about that going on because it can happen to anyone at any time," resident Alex Formichella said. "You never know. You can be in the safest neighborhood and just be a moment of opportunity."