DNA evidence has helped to identify the suspect who raped a 12-year-old girl in Colorado Springs. Police say the suspect had escaped from Louisiana.
According to Mike Velasquez with the Colorado Springs Police Department, the suspect's name is Leonard Palmer. The rape happened near the 400 block of Brookside on October 25, and police say Palmer was seen in the area on the previous day.
Police say Palmer was arrested within 24 hours of the assault on unrelated charges. He is currently in custody in Louisiana.
When the sketch of the suspect was released, Velasquez says an officer noticed it resembled Palmer.
The CBI analyzed Palmer's DNA and found it matched the DNA collected from the assault victim.
Palmer is facing charges of second-degree kidnapping and sexual assault on a child.
The family has told KKTV 11 News that the child was raped. They are relieved that the suspect is off the street.
"I'm super happy for her," a family member told 11 News. "And that everybody is safe now."
The family says they've received support from their neighbors. They were with one when they heard the news.
"She was like oh my God, they finally caught him,” the same family member told 11 News. “She was happy also because she [has] a grandchild too that is also a little girl."
Neighbors had been on edge when they thought he might still be in the area.
"There used to be little kids out here all the time, and the last couple weeks, you haven't seen them out without a parent with them,” Jennifer Given said.
As for what the community wants done with the accused:
"I hope he gets more than the maximum,” Given said.
According to CBS affiliate KNOE, Palmer broke out of the Epps Detention Center along with Charles Mangrum on October 15. According to their report, published on October 26, Palmer already had an escape charge on his record, as well as simple burglary.
Mangrum was arrested by U.S. Marshals Service at a hotel in Colorado Springs just after midnight on Tuesday, October 25. Palmer was arrested about 24-hours later.
October 25, Previous Coverage:
Police say the suspect spent one or two hours in a Colorado Springs community before he grabbed a 12-year-old girl who was headed to the bus stop. Although she struggled, he over powered her and family members say she was raped.
Wednesday afternoon, Police released a “composite sketch” that was produced from victim and witness interviews. The suspect is described as a white male with pale skin, aged 20-28 and about 5'6" tall. He was wearing black sunglasses, a worn brown baseball cap, a puffy black jacket with a hooded gray sweatshirt underneath, baggy blue jeans and a gold necklace.
Officers say the assault occurred near the 400 block of Brookside, near 8th Street and South Nevada, while walking to a bus stop. Police haven't released any further details about the assault, but family members have told 11 News that the child was raped.
She blames herself, her family says, because she doesn't understand what happened to her.
11 News has been digging deeper, and we've uncovered some more alarming information. There are eight sex offenders who live on Brookside, including three convicted of sexually assaulting children. Most people who 11 News spoke with who live on the street had no idea.
"It's like an eye opener,” Texanna Richardson said.
We showed her a map of where the sex offenders live. She had no idea there were so many so close to her.
11 News did speak with a woman who had taken a look at the registry, and she knows her neighborhood. She wants people to protect Brookside’s kids.
"I believe in neighbors because we don't live in the best part of town,” Clarissa Carlson said. “And those kids--it's not their choice. The world is what it is. And we have to remember that they're babies."
Police are seeking the public's help in tracking down the suspect. Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call police, or call Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP.