Crime

Man charged with raping woman and stealing her car. He returned it the next day, cops say

A man charged with sexually assaulting a 74-year-old Sarasota woman who suffers from multiple sclerosis and then stealing her SUV late Sunday night, returned her vehicle the next morning, which ultimately led to his arrest, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

James Lamar Quatez Mitchell, 22, was arrested Monday night and charged with sexual battery, burglary of an unoccupied dwelling with a battery and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He is being held without bond at the Sarasota County jail.

At about 10:45 p.m. Sunday, the victim called the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to report the assault and theft.

The victim told deputies that an unknown man had knocked on her door just after 10 p.m. and asked for a glass of water. When she didn’t give him any, he left, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Shortly after, the woman got a call from a neighbor telling her that her garage was open. When she went to close it, she was confronted by the man in the doorway of her bedroom.

He forced her onto the bed, breaking her knee brace and cutting her leg before sexually assaulting her. Eventually, he left in the woman’s 2019 Honda HRV.

Detectives later learned that the same neighbor who had warned the victim about her garage being open had in fact given the suspect a glass of water, and was able to provide them with a description that matched that provided by the victim.

On Monday morning, about nine hours after being assaulted, the victim again called the sheriff’s office to report that the suspect had returned her SUV. The same neighbor had spotted the suspect returning the vehicle and saw him running off, according to the sheriff’s office.

The victim’s neighbor tried to follow the suspect but lost sight of him in the 5400 block of San Juan. The suspect was captured by surveillance video footage in the neighborhood and a K9 began tracking him, but lost his scent in the University Club Apartment complex.

Later that day, at about 7:45 p.m., a deputy spotted Mitchell, who matched the witness description and the suspect seen on the video surveillance footage, according to the report.

Detectives said Mitchell confessed to assaulting the victim, stealing her SUV and driving it to Bradenton before returning Monday morning.

Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.
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