Greenleaf nab: Suspect probably not the serial rapist
The woman was sitting outside Christian's Pizza before noon on March 17 when she saw the man she says attacked her December 30 in Greenleaf Park. She called police on her cell phone and spoke to Sergeant Steve Dillon.
"How sure are you?" Dillon asked.
The woman, who's looked at countless mug shots, told Dillon, "My heart pounded."
By the time Robert Terrell Haskins, 19, reached the east end of the Downtown Mall, police had intercepted him and detained him for questioning.
"He was very forthright and cooperative with police," says Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo– so cooperative that police felt they had probable cause to charge Haskins with felony attempted rape.
Back in December, police thought the Greanleaf attack, which occurred in the presence of the woman's toddler, might be the work of a serial rapist who has been genetically linked to five attacks dating back to 1997, including a brutal rape in the Willoughby subdivision in November.
DNA evidence was not available in the Greenleaf case, but "One of the things we look at are behavior and comments," says Longo. And remarks Haskins allegedly made caused police to tie him to the other attacks.
Now police are backing off that theory because of Haskins' age and physical description. "He would have been 13 in 1997 when the first rape occurred in Waynesboro," observes Longo.
Police will obtain Haskins' DNA sample, and they're looking at him as a suspect in other cases. But "It's highly, highly, highly unlikely he's the serial rapist," Longo says.