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Posted: August 10, 2016

1 year later: Suspected child rapist still on the loose in Jacksonville


News | WFOX


Wednesday marked one year since an 8-year-old girl was raped and beaten in a wooded area near University Boulevard North. She has since moved to North Carolina with her sister and mother but the memory of the attack is still vivid in the minds of neighbors.

Her attacker remains on the run. All leads have run dry.

Community leaders including the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the Justice Coalition, and CrimeStoppers gathered steps away from the area where the attack happened to hold a news conference.

The goal of the news conference was to put the story back in the forefront and help jog someone’s memory who could help police.

“Why hasn't this guy been caught?” said Denneth, the victim’s father.

Action News Jax is only using his first name to protect the victim’s identity.

“I talked with my daughter around the 17th, she really didn't seem like herself, she seemed distant," he said.

JSO Director of Investigations and Homeland Security Tom Hackney said 25 pieces of evidence were processed, interviews completed, but they still have not been able to crack the case.

“Perhaps this person who did this has talked to somebody, has made a comment, has made a statement over a beer said something,” said Hackney.

Hackney said he has a piece of evidence that could be useful but what he’s lacking is a name.

“This wasn't a crime that occurred from 20 to 30 yards away, he had to look this little girl in the eyes and do what he did to her. There's a special place for this guy,” said Hackney.

Neighbors are concerned the suspect will attack again if someone doesn’t step up and give police the tip their need to make an arrest.

“You got more kids still in danger. This person is free to do this to another child,” said Tameika Walton.

Action News Jax learned about the attack around 7:20 the night of Aug. 10, 2015 thanks to a viewer who called our newsroom.

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But it wasn’t until nearly four hours later that Hackney, who was at the scene that night, confirmed an 8-year-old girl was sexually battered and her attacker was still on the loose.

Action News Jax reporter Lorena Inclan questioned Hackney about that delay.

“We look at everything we can do at the Sheriff's Office to see if there's a better way we can do it and that burden of responsibility falls on me as the director of investigations and sometimes I get out as quick as I can,” said Hackney. “I don't like to get out and I don't like to have my staff get out with false information or not enough information.”

The hope now is that the renewed attention on the case will generate more leads.

CrimeStoppers Executive Director Wyllie Hodges said it’s been nearly a year since they received a tip on the case.

“This is not the first or the last victim of this individual. We need people to step up, we need this guy put in jail,” said Hodges.

Thanks to a $6,000 donation from Impact Church, the reward stands at $9,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

According to Hackney, they don’t have reason to suspect anyone in the child’s immediate circle of friends and family.

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