MANATEE — Detectives have arrested a suspect in the kidnapping and rape of a 5-year-old Bradenton girl, according to Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.
The suspect, Dominick Jerome Hawkins, 36, was located after Sarasota police were called out to investigate a suspicious person in the area near 507 Kumquat Court in Sarasota early Wednesday afternoon.
“Officers of Sarasota Police Department have been working aggressively over the last several hours since yesterday afternoon to help identify and locate the suspect from yesterday in Manatee County,” Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said.
Hawkins has a history of prior arrests, most recently in May 7 on a domestic battery charge after incident involving his wife, according to the Manatee County court records.
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The woman requested prosecutors not pursue the case, and on May 30 the state attorney's office concurred, according to court records.
On Tuesday -- the day after the girl was kidnapped and raped -- Hawkins was cited for illegal camping in Sarasota, according to Sarasota County court records.
After the suspect was questioned by police and deemed a “person of interest”, he was transported to the Sarasota Police Department where Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives conducted an interview. “When I saw this on television last night, being a mom I was very concerned,” DiPino said. “This is horrific, we worked really hard within our police department to help find this individual if he was in our jurisdiction.”
The victim had been playing with another child around noon Monday in the mobile home park she resides at 5120 14th St. W., when she was approached by a man.
Detectives says the child was lured by the suspect to the India Bazaar store, 5112 14th St. W., to buy candy. The suspect then allegedly took her to a vacant mobile home at the Aloha Estates Mobile Home Park, 5310 14th St. W where he sexually assaulted her.
The girl managed to escape and run home, reporting the incident to family.
The suspect then is said to have tried to board a Manatee County heading southbound, but was not allowed on.