Teen rape suspect linked to another attack - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Teen rape suspect linked to another attack

Darrell Lockhart (Source: Muscogee County Jail) Darrell Lockhart (Source: Muscogee County Jail)

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Columbus Police say the man who posed as a carpet cleaner and raped a young girl in her home is also responsible for another violent sexual assault involving a teenager.

On Friday afternoon (May 6, 2011), a 17-year-old girl says she was waiting for someone to pick her up from school at Tillinghurst, an adult education center off of Buena Vista Road, when a man she recognized, her cousin's ex-boyfriend, pulled up in a carpet cleaning van and offered to take her home.

According to Columbus Police, the man behind the wheel was 25-year-old Darrell Lockhart.

Not thinking he'd ever hurt her, the teen decided to take him up on his offer and allowed Lockhart to drive her to her apartment complex nearby on Decatur Court.

The victim says her attacker used his carpet cleaning truck to his advantage, saying he could give her an estimate for his work if he could come inside and look at her carpets.

She says the van was white and said "Willie's Carpet Care" on the side but Lockhart was not wearing any kind of uniform. Detectives with the Columbus Police Department's Sex Crimes Unit say he borrowed the van and doesn't even have a driver's license.

The teen soon realized his business offer was just a ploy to get them alone behind closed doors.

"He came in and looked at my carpet and I went into the kitchen to look for a broom. He came up behind me and tried to throw me on the counter and that's when he went to choking me and I passed out on the floor," she said in an interview at her apartment Monday. WTVM is not revealing her identity.

When he was choking her, she says Lockhart wrapped both of his hands around her neck, lifting her off the floor until she went unconscious.

When she came to, the teen says Lockhart was taking off her pants and told her not to move, saying he'd punch her in the face if she did. Then, he raped her. 

"At that point, I thought I was going to die because there wasn't anyone there to help me. My music was up loud and he turned it up louder so no one could hear me," she added.

Neighbors told her they did hear her yelling but thought she was singing along with her music, which she admits she often does. Lockhart's van didn't raise any suspicions in the parking lot because crews are currently renovating some of the units in her apartment complex.

When he left, the teenager ran to a neighbor's house for help and they called police. Detectives caught up with Lockhart Monday night and arrested him.

Columbus Police say another local rape case from last month was very similar to this one- with similar circumstances and a similar suspect description. They showed a picture of a suspect in that case to the latest 17-year-old victim. She said it was the same man that cornered her in her home and raped her, a man she identified as Lockhart.

Now, Lockhart is being charged with both rapes.

In August of 2010, an 18-year-old woman told police Lockhart took her to Carver Park and choked her before he raped her alongside a blue pickup truck. He later dropped her off on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Detectives say the victim knew Lockhart as well and that's why she accepted a ride from him but she knew something wasn't right when he drove to the park because he was supposed to take her to Wynnton Road.

She positively identified him after the sexual assault but police say they didn't have enough forensic evidence to charge him and the investigation was put on hold. According to investigators, the blue pickup truck he was driving at the time of the attack was also borrowed like the carpet cleaning van. 

Lockhart admitted to having sex with the teens, according to detectives, but he says it was consensual. Police tell WTVM they're trying to see if Lockhart is connected to other attacks on women in the area, including an incident in Phenix City back in December. A woman reported being taken to the Colonial Lands hotel by a man who choked her after she told him she didn't want to have sex with him. She managed to get away and call police but her attacker was gone before officers got there.

Lockhart faces charges of Rape, False Imprisonment, Forgery and Aggravated Assault.

He's scheduled to appear in Columbus Recorders Court on his charges Thursday morning. He is being held in the Muscogee County Jail.

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