A 42-year-old homeless man has been arrested in connection with the brutal rape of a 73-year-old birdwatcher in Central Park on Wednesday morning.
David Albert Mitchell was taken into custody last night by three rookie police officers who spotted him walking on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, not far from where the woman said the attack occurred.
The elderly victim picked Mitchell out of a lineup on Thursday, according to New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. He is expected to face rape charges.
The man spat at police officers as he was escorted in handcuffed out of a New York police building this afternoon.
Police released surveillance footage showing a suspect making off with the victim’s backpack yesterday afternoon. They believe Mitchell was the man shown in the video.
Browne said the suspect had some of the victim’s belongings on him when he was picked up by the officers.
The victim told investigators she believed a previous encounter with the man, where she took a photograph of him exposing himself, may have prompted the gruesome attack, which left her bruised and battered.
She said her attacker asked, ‘Do you remember me?’ before pushing her to the ground and raping her ‘vaginally and rectally’ at about 11am in a wooded area near the park’s tranquil Strawberry Fields. The area serves as a memorial to John Lennon.
Mitchell is believed to have been wanted in another Central Park assault as well.
In the horrific attack, the elderly woman said she was thrown to the ground and sexually assaulted by the man who then made off with her backpack, which contained her camera. He also tried to steal her watch but was unsuccessful.
Shaken up but mostly angry, the woman told The New York Post what punishment she believes her attacker deserves.
‘Kill him,’ she said. ‘Cut off his penis. That’s fine. Cut off his feet, then hit him over the head. Then give him life in prison.
‘I’m a little jittery. I get the shakes. But I’m more angry. I hope he goes to jail for a long time, and he gets raped, over and over again.’
The woman, who regularly visits the park, said she thinks the assailant was the same man she photographed masturbating about 10 days ago in another, more isolated spot known as The Ramble.
She said he demanded she delete the image before they went their separate ways during their previous encounter, and tried to grab her camera but didn’t succeed. Police said that initial encounter wasn’t reported.
In yesterday’s meeting, the woman said the man approached her and asked if she remembered him. When she said no, he attacked.
‘He pounced on me,’ she told The Post. ‘He jumped on my back… I started screaming. And he said, ‘You don’t scream!’ And he grabbed my throat.’I still screamed. ‘He said, ‘I’ll cut your jugular!’ I stopped screaming.